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Last updated: July 3, 2007 12:25 pm

Getronics lifted by US takeover approach

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Getronics, the Dutch IT group, on Tuesday confirmed it had received a takeover approach from a US company, sending its shares more than 15 per cent higher to €6.45.

The Dutch group did not name the suitor but analysts suggested candidates might include Hewlett Packard, IBM, Dell and EDS. Getronics has a market capitalisation of about €800m.

Analysts expect a bidder to offer about €7.50 a share, valuing the company at more than €900m.

The Dutch group, shares of which have jumped in recent months on persistent takeover talk, said it had received a formal expression of interest to start negotiations with the objective to acquire all Getronics shares.

Getronics said it had decided “to explore this option and its strategic implications for the company”. It has retained financial advisors but cautioned that “the exploration may or may not lead to a transaction”.

“The process will be executed by the board of management taking into account the interest of all stakeholders,” Getronics said.

It will be supervised by a special committee of the supervisory board, comprising Rinus Minderhoud, Getronics’ chairman, and Berend Brix, vice chairman, “in order to protect Getronics and the board of management against a potential conflict of interest”.

The company declined further comment “until there is either the expectation that an agreement can be reached or the boards have decided to terminate the process or legal or regulatory requirements arise requiring us to issue a press release”.

It said further information would be provided alongside half year results in early August.

Getronics shares had risen on Friday on takeover talk, with CapGemini, the French IT group, then suggested as a possible suitor. CapGemini declined to comment.

Last year takeover talks with KPN, the Dutch telecoms group, broke down. KPN was understood to be only interested in part of Getronics, which employs 25,000 staff worldwide in more than 25 countries and has annual sales of about €2.6bn.

The speculation came against a background of operational struggle. Getronics has seen sales slide as it lost important contracts, and has been forced to restructure. In 2005, its financial situation forced the amendment of credit facilities with its banks.

In December last year it parted company with Theo Janssen, chief financial officer, Earlier Klaas Wagenaar, chief executive, conceded he had considered quitting in the wake of a book-keeping scandal that led to the resignation of two executives at its Italian division.

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