(Reuters) – Breakfast cereal maker Kellogg Co has again raised its bid for Egyptian snack maker Bisco Misr, outbidding private equity group Abraaj for the third time and snatching the lead in a $140 million takeover battle.
Kellogg said on Thursday it would improve its offer to 86.36 Egyptian pounds per share, hoping to secure a brand that will give it a high profile presence in the Arab world’s most populous nation.
UAE’s Abraaj Investment Management, the Middle East’s largest private equity firm, has been battling Kellogg for the Egyptian firm since last month, after the U.S. group scuppered its deal to snap up Bisco.
Abraaj had increased its own bid only this week to 84.66 pounds, topping a previous Kellogg offer.
Food is seen as a potentially lucrative sector in Egypt, with its growing population of 86 million, and Bisco Misr is a well-known brand.
Cairo has seen a flurry of mergers and share issues in recent months, signs of renewed investor confidence after the political and economic turmoil that followed popular uprisings in 2011.
Egypt’s government this year launched a raft of reforms aimed at luring back foreign investors and shoring up growth while cutting a ballooning deficit.
While shareholders with 56 percent of Bisco Misr had agreed to sell to Abraaj at 73.91 pounds per share, Kellogg’s bids have forced the private equity firm to return with higher offers.
Abraaj, which has about $7.5 billion of assets under management, targets high-growth sectors in emerging markets.
($1 = 7.1500 Egyptian pounds) (Reporting by Maggie Fick; Editing by David Clarke and Clara Ferreira Marques)