Georg Fischer makes rival bid for Finland’s Uponor, driving up shares
By Louise Rasmussen
COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – Swiss industrial group Georg Fischer (GF) on Monday made a rival offer for plumbing and heating systems maker Uponor, driving up the Finnish group’s shares with a premium over a bid from Belgium’s Aliaxis.
GF’s offer of 28.85 euros per share valued Uponor at 2.1 billion euros ($2.26 billion), a 12% premium to Aliaxis’ 25.75 euro bid, but the Finnish group’s shares rose further to 29.38 euros, suggesting more bids may still come.
While GF could integrate Uponor even if only a narrow majority of shareholders accept the bid, the Swiss group would prefer owning 100% of the Finnish company, CEO Andreas Muller said.
“We intend ultimately to fully acquire Uponor, we would not assume having a minority investor such as Aliaxis,” Muller told analysts attending a conference call.
Uponor’s board, which had rejected the Aliaxis offer, said in a joint statement with GF that it recommended that shareholders accept the Swiss company’s bid.
Some 36.9% of Uponor’s shareholders had agreed to sell to Georg Fischer, including top owner Oras Invest with a stake of 25.7%, Uponor and GF said.
Through the combination agreement with GF, Uponor has committed to discussing any future competing offers with GF, and will ask the Swiss group to improve its bid before proceeding with any others.
“We are now committed to this combination with GF and we are also committed to not look for other options. We are now engaged in making this deal happen,” said Hans Sohlstrom, an Uponor board member who leads the Finnish group’s response to the bids.
Aliaxis, which holds a 20% stake in Uponor, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Uponor last month said the unsolicited offer from the Belgian group had drawn the attention of other potential bidders.
Shares in Uponor were up 6.9% at 1153 GMT, while GF shares rose 3.0%.
($1 = 0.9308 euros)
(Reporting by Louise Rasmussen and Terje Solsvik; Editing by Jacqueline Wong, Rashmi Aich and Nick Zieminski)