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ROUNDUP/Versum turns to takeover poker: Ready for talks with Merck

Published by

June 10, 2019 7:29 am

merck

DARMSTADT/TEMPE (dpa-AFX) – Under pressure from Merck’s hostile takeover bid, semiconductor supplier Versum is open to negotiations.

The Americans announced on Friday in Tempe (Arizona) that they intend to enter into talks with the Dax Group. However, Versum again rejected the offer by the Darmstadt-based pharmaceutical and chemical group of 48 dollars per share in cash. “The offer is not in the best interest of Versum or its shareholders,” they said.

Merck had officially put 6 billion dollars (5.3 billion euros) on the table for Versum on Tuesday, thus taking its plans for a hostile takeover seriously.

Financing commitments for the deal with banks had already been made. In January, however, the American management had already reached an agreement with the US Entegris group on a takeover worth around four billion dollars and had therefore initially blocked the advances from Germany.

Versum now advised its shareholders not to offer their papers to Merck. The recommendation to investors to agree to the Entegris deal also remained. The Versum shareholders are to vote on the merger with the U.S. specialty chemicals group at an extraordinary general meeting on April 26.

At the same time, Versum announced that management and its consultants had been engaged to conduct further discussions with Merck. Merck will also be provided with non-public information. The audit of the books is a common step in takeover negotiations. According to the information provided, there has already been initial contact between the two companies.

With this step, Versum is making a turnaround in the bidding process. So far, the Americans had rejected talks with Merck, which prompted the Germans to make an offer against the will of Versum’s management.

“We welcome Versum’s announcement to enter into talks with us,” Merck said on Friday.

With the acquisition of Versum, the Darmstadt company wants to strengthen its weak specialty chemicals business and focus more on the electronics industry. Versum has 2300 employees and produces specialty gases and chemicals for semiconductors.

Now the poker should start at the takeover price. The prospect of a possibly more expensive deal pushed Merck shares slightly to 101 euros on Friday. Investors are already betting on a discount on the offer: Versum shares rose slightly to 50 dollars, above Merck’s purchase offer of 48 dollars.

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