Orkla moves to placate Alcoa in Elkem bid
group Elkem in order to make it more attractive to shareholders,
including US metal packaging giant Alcoa.
On 10 January Orkla secured 50.03 per cent control of Elkem, giving it a platform to launch a bid for the entire company, which it values at 11.59 billion crowns (€1.6bn).
But under a revised deal that gives all shareholders equal rights, Orkla said that the right to extra payments if it bought or sold at a higher price would only apply to 70 per cent of each shareholding.
In compensation, it would pay one crown extra for the other 30 per cent of holdings. The revision could make the offer slightly more attractive for Alcoa, which said on 26 January that it might take six weeks to decide whether to accept or reject the offer.
Elkem is the world's biggest producer of silicon metal and also makes ferrosilicon, aluminium and controls Swedish listed aluminium products firm Sapa. US aluminium giant Alcoa, which owns 46.5 per cent of Norwegian Elkem, has been monitoring the situation closely.
Indeed, Elkem has long been caught in the middle of Orkla and Alcoa, which also has a joint venture with Elkem in aluminium and has cooperated with it for decades. Alcoa made two failed takeover bids for Elkem in 2002. Nonetheless, Orkla has stressed the importance of continuing the good partnership with Alcoa in Elkem Aluminium.
Orkla, whose operating profit of NOK3.8 billion is made up of 40 per cent food, sees Elkem as a perfect fit within its business strategy, and sees the company as an ideal industrial opportunity. Orkla has available cash after selling out of a beer joint venture with Denmark's Carlsberg.
If Orkla acquires 100 per cent of Elkem, the group's average cost will be approximately NOK 180 per share. If the other shareholders choose not to sell their shares to Orkla, the group's average cost will be approximately NOK 125 per share.
Orkla's takeover has not gone smoothly. The revised offer follows the sacking of the company's president and chief executive Finn Jebsen, following criticism of unexpected costs arising from the Elkem acquisition.
A few days after the Orkla corporate assembly approved the bid, it became clear that an Elkem takeover also obliged Orkla to buy up to 1.8 billion crowns (€221.97 million)-worth of shares in Sapa.
Orkla is one of the largest listed companies in Norway. The core businesses are branded consumer goods, chemicals and financial investments. The group is a leading supplier of branded consumer goods to the Nordic grocery market, holding many number one or two positions in strategically important product areas.