Aker again rejects Kværner bid

Norwegian offshore contracting group Aker Maritime AS this week urged its shareholders to turn down compatriot Kværner AS's recent takeover offer on the grounds that the bid was "highly conditional and subject to Kværner's complete and absolute discretion" and did not reflect the "full value of Aker."


LONDON�Norwegian offshore contracting group Aker Maritime AS this week urged its shareholders to turn down compatriot Kværner AS's recent takeover offer on the grounds that the bid was "highly conditional and subject to Kværner's complete and absolute discretion" and did not reflect the "full value of Aker."

The board of directors at Aker told company shareholders it had been studying "how an industrial combination between [the two companies] could be implemented" since summer, but had concluded the "potential" for each would "clearly be realized to a greater degree through other structural solutions being discussed than by Kværner's offer."

The bid was an all-stock deal through which Aker shareholders would receive 0.79 of one Kværner share for each Aker share held.

When it made the offer last month, Kværner Chief Executive Kjell Almskog suggested a merger of the two�both of which were hard hit by the last commercial slowdown in the North Sea offshore construction market�would produce a group "second to none in the oil and gas products and technology area."

Aker acknowledged that it shared its rival's belief that "in many areas there is an industrial basis for coordinating the activities of the two companies" but believed the current bid would lead to "uncertainty" that would benefit "neither Aker's nor Kværner's business operations, employees, or shareholders."

Kværner called Aker's rejection of the offer "disappointing" and confirmed that the notion of a Norwegian combine fell apart not because of any weakness in "industrial logic," but due to "disagreement over the value of the offer."

Based on the "synergies that can be achieved through a combination of Kværner's oil and gas business and Aker," Kværner said it still felt its offer "fairly reflects the value of the company." This is Kværner's fourth approach in its campaign to takeover Aker, each of the previous three having been turned down by Aker majority shareholder Aker RGI, which controls 63% of the group's shares.

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