Candover must step up Stork talks

UK buyout firm Candover is considering whether to step up negotiations with trade buyer Marel in an attempt to salvage its bid for Dutch industrial group Stork, after the Icelandic group built up its stake to 19.6 percent.

UK buyout firm Candover will be forced to step up its direct negotiations with Icelandic group Marel if it wants to salvage its recommended €1.5 billion ($2 billion) offer for Dutch industrial group Stork, according to a banking source.

The Icelandic food processing company said in a statement that it had increased its stake in Stork to 19.6 percent. This makes it highly unlikely that Candover will be able to secure the 80 percent shareholder acceptance it needs for its €47 per share bid to go through.

The source said: “The only way the deal is going to get done is if the two groups sit down and talk. Stork management is not interested in breaking up the conglomerate and so Candover is obviously the logical choice especially as it is paying a very full price.”

The hedge funds Centaurus and Paulson selling a 33 percent stake “practically bit Candover’s hand off” for the offer originally, he added. 

Marel supervisory board president and major shareholder Oddur Thordarson told the Dutch newspaper Financieele Dagblad that Marel has had talks with all parties involved and is considering its options, claiming “it is not too late for a compromise.”

Marel has previously expressed an interest in buying Stork’s food systems company, but its offer was rejected. Thordarson said Stork had agreed the division would be a good fit with Marel, but it wanted to buy the Icelandic company rather than break up the conglomerate. However, Stork’s shareholders would not support this, he said.

A Candover spokesperson said: “There is a process of communication with all shareholders being led by Stork. No counter bid is forthcoming and so we’re continuing as before.”