AMSTERDAM, April 11 (Reuters) - The CEO of AkzoNobel , the Dutch paints and coatings maker whose management is trying to avoid a takeover by U.S. rival PPG Industries , said its shareholders are divided over the bid in an interview published on Tuesday.
Akzo’s boards rejected two proposals from PPG in March, the second worth 24.6 billion euros ($26.05 billion) in cash and shares at current prices. Akzo’s shares are trading at 79.42 euros per share, well below the implied offer price of 90.57 euros per share, and most of Akzo’s top-20 largest shareholders have urged CEO Ton Buechner to enter exploratory talks with PPG.
Buechner and Chairman Antony Burgmans say there are no grounds to discuss PPG’s bid because it is too low and fails to address concerns about other stakeholders including employees.
“We are very close to our investors,” Buechner told newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad, saying that some had praised his performance at the company, and others support his alternative plan to sell Akzo’s chemicals division rather than enter talks with PPG.
“There are also shareholders who say: we don’t see any of the risks you have identified in talking with PPG.”
Hedge fund Elliott Advisors, one of the company’s largest shareholders, said on March 29 investors representing nearly a quarter of Akzo’s ownership support calls for the companies to enter talks.
No major shareholder has publicly endorsed the chemicals sale plan over a takeover by PPG.
Analysts are sceptical that Buechner’s plan to spin off the chemicals division, which Akzo plans to detail on April 19, will ever be able to rival PPG’s offer in terms of value.
“PPG’s second offer contains a lot of words, but few commitments or concrete steps or solutions” to stakeholder concerns, Buechner told the paper.
($1 = 0.9442 euros)
Reporting by Toby Sterling, editing by Louise Heavens