German truckmaker MAN on Thursday raised its bid for Scania and said it had lifted its stake in its Swedish rival to 14.27 per cent of the voting rights.
Shares in Scania soared after MAN confirmed it was buying shares at SKr475 apiece, well above its earlier offer price of SKr442. In early Stockholm trading the stock was 10 per cent higher at SKr473.
The move appeared to have the support of Scania’s biggest shareholder, Volkswagen. The German carmaker holds 34 per cent of Scania, and people familiar with the transaction said VW was implicitly backing MAN’s attempts to buy up to 16 per cent of the Swedish company in the market – a move that would give the two of them a majority stake.
But they warned internal politics at VW could skew or even change its view in the future.
MAN’s move turns its attempted €9.6bn ($12bn) takeover of Scania on its head, coming days after a it signalled it was ready to withdraw its hostile bid.
It comes after Bernd Pischetsrieder, VW’s chief executive, said on Monday that he preferred a friendly approach but would back a hostile one after four weeks.
On Wednesday night people involved in the transaction said Mr Pischetsrieder had lost patience with Investor, Scania’s second-largest shareholder, which was refusing to talk to MAN. “If you know within hours that it’s not going to be friendly, you don’t have to wait weeks,” one said.
Scania’s board on Wednesday night met in a hastily-called meeting and reiterated its rejection of the offer. In a statement on Monday, Scania said: “The board regrets that MAN has decided to maintain the hostile nature of its offer.”
It said MAN’s offer undervalued it both as to its future earnings potential and the level of synergies from a combined group.
In a major turnround from its initial position that there were few synergies, Scania now believes there are about €1bn – double MAN’s estimate, which was already viewed as optimistic by analysts.
Scania said on Thursday that it had been informed that VW’s supervisory board would meet “in the very near future” and that the MAN offer would be discussed at that meeting.
People close to the board said MAN now had to pay “a phenomenal price” or the possibility of a hostile counter-bid from Scania would increase dramatically. Investor said on Monday that it did not rule out such a move.
People on all sides of the transaction said they believed the extraordinary tussle between the two truckmakers was far from over. But, in the words of one banker, “a deal is going to happen – something that wasn’t clear a week ago – and it is very likely to be hostile”.
Citigroup, one of MAN’s advisers, on Wednesday night began offering SKr475 a share and was looking to acquire between 5 and 10.5 per cent of the Scania’s voting rights. MAN already has an agreement with Renault to buy the French group’s 5.2 per cent voting stake.
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