(Reuters) – Sika’s board of directors wants to buy out the company’s major shareholder to try to stop a takeover of the Swiss chemicals business by France’s Saint-Gobain, SonntagsZeitung newspaper reported, citing two unnamed sources.
The French group agreed in December to buy from the Burkard-Schenker family a 16.1 percent stake that carries 52.4 percent of Sika’s voting rights – enough for control and, at 2.75 billion Swiss francs ($2.89 billion), a far cheaper option than buying the whole company.
However, opposition from the Sika’s management and many board members has obstructed the deal, and a lengthy court and regulatory battle for control of the Swiss chemicals firm now looms.
At Sika’s annual shareholder meeting on Tuesday, Chairman Paul Haelg said the board had prepared an alternative to the Saint-Gobain deal.
The alternative involves buying all the shares held by Schenker-Winkler Holding (SWH), a vehicle of the Burkard-Schenker family, for 2.25 billion francs, 500 million francs less than Saint-Gobain’s offer, SonntagsZeitung reported, citing two “well-informed” sources.
Representatives of Sika were not immediately available outside office hours to comment on or verify the report.
A spokesman for SWH said in an emailed statement that the investment vehicle was not aware of any proposal and that any arrangement in which Saint-Gobain was not part of the solution would be unacceptable for the Burkard family.
Another alternative arrangement, in which the controlling family would retain a part of their stake for the time being to profit from any rise in value of the shares, could be adopted to compensate for the 500 million franc shortfall in the board’s offer, the Swiss newspaper said. ($1 = 0.9517 Swiss francs) (Reporting By Alice Baghdjian; Editing by David Goodman)