ICI bidder given more time for offer

ICI bidder Akzo Nobel was today given more time by the UK takeover watchdog to table its formal £8bn (€12bn) offer for the Dulux paint maker.

ICI bidder Akzo Nobel was today given more time by the UK takeover watchdog to table its formal £8bn (€12bn) offer for the Dulux paint maker.

The Takeover Panel has extended the “put up or shut up” deadline to allow Dutch group, which makes Crown paint, to come up with a firm offer.

Akzo had originally been given until 5pm today to put forward a bid after first approaching ICI in June. The group was granted access to ICI’s books earlier this week after a proposed higher offer of 670p a share.

But Akzo was reportedly struggling to meet the deadline and has now been granted until 10am on Monday to lodge its takeover offer.

If Akzo fails to meet the Monday deadline and ICI does not agree to a further extension, the group could be prevented from bidding again for six months.

However, there are caveats that may be included which would allow the group to come back within that time-frame, such as if a rival offer is made, or if Akzo gained the backing of ICI’s board for a formal bid.

Akzo has been stalking ICI for a number of months, first proposing a £7.2 billion offer earlier this summer.

ICI rejected the approach and turned down a second 650p-a-share indicative bid last week for being too low, before the latest revised informal offer.

Akzo is keen to get its hands on ICI’s Dulux paints business after it agreed to offload its pharmaceuticals business Organon BioSciences to Schering-Plough in March to concentrate on its core paints and speciality chemicals operations.

As part of the takeover proposals, Akzo has agreed to sell ICI’s adhesives and electronic materials operations to German chemicals company Henkel, the maker of Persil and Theramed toothpaste, for £2.7 billion.

But there is thought to be concern among some Akzo investors over ICI’s escalating price tag, with hedge fund TPG-Axon reportedly among those opposed to a 670p a share bid.

Some ICI shareholders are also said to be unwilling to back a proposal of less than 700p a share.

ICI, which was founded 86 years ago, last week reported a 12% rise in underlying pre-tax profits during the first half of the year.

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