UK buyout firm Candover’s €1.5 billion ($2 billion) bid for Stork could be challenged by Icelandic rival Marel, after the food processing company reportedly built up a blocking stake in the Dutch group.
Marel has increased its stake from 16.9 percent to nearly 20 percent, according to Dutch newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad. This leaves it well-placed to block Candover’s proposed €47 per share bid, which has been recommended by the company board but needs 80 percent acceptance from shareholders to go through.
Two other large shareholders in Stork – Delta Lloyd Asset Management, which has a 5.2 percent stake, and Columbia Wanger Asset Management, with 4.5 percent – have also both said they would resist the sale to Candover, according to the Dutch newspaper.
Hedge funds Centaurus and Paulson, which own a combined 33 percent stake in the company, have both agreed to sell their stakes to the buyout firm. The hedge funds made the company viable as a buyout target by pressuring the management to split up the company after acquiring their stakes.
Marel has previously expressed an interest in buying Stork’s food systems division, although its original offer was not acceptable to Stork.
One option for Candover may be to reduce the level of shareholder acceptance needed for the bid to go through, according to a source close to the deal.