Thursday, October 28

Naturgy board says IFM bid is’reasonable’

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MADRID — Naturgy said on Friday its board considered the 4.9 billion euros ($5.76 billion) bid from the Australian fund IFM to acquire a 22.69% stake in the Spanish energy group to be “reasonable.”

However, the company said its board, where the company’s main shareholders hold more than a combined 67% stake, would not tender their shares.

After stripping out dividend payments, IFM is offering 22.07 euros per share, down from its original 23 euros per share offer. Shares in Naturgy were trading at 21.730 euros at 1516 GMT on Friday.

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The bid is subject to securing at least 17% in the Spanish energy group, although IFM said in its prospectus filed last week that it could also lower the minimum threshold to 10%.

A source with knowledge of the matter said that taking into account stakes held by some board members in Naturgy, treasury stock and a 3.85% stake held Algeria’s state-owned oil company Sonatrach, which is aligned with the board’s assessment, more than 70% of Naturgy’s shareholders would not sell.

Besides Criteria, which currently holds almost 26% in the energy group, Naturgy’s main shareholders are private equity funds CVC and GIP with stakes of 20.7% and 20.64%, respectively.

Criteria, the main shareholder of Caixabank, is fully owned by the foundation of former savings bank La Caixa. (Reporting by Jesús Aguado; editing by Nathan Allen and Louise Heavens)