Celje, 05 June (STA) - Shareholders of chemical company Cinkarna Celje endorsed on Tuesday a proposal from its biggest single owner, insurer Modra Zavarovalnica, that the company buy own stock in the EUR 250-300 price range, which may be an attempt to raise the price of a takeover bid currently at EUR 220 per share.
The management of the Celje-based company had initially proposed a price range of EUR 170-210, but the insurer, which holds a 20% stake, made a counter-proposal which was endorsed by the majority of the shareholders.
The shareholders' meeting was held a day after Anatol, a company associated with private Austrian firm Martens Management Group, published a takeover intent valued at EUR 220 per share or just shy of EUR 180m.
The offer refers to the entire stake excluding treasury shares, but the company said the value to shareholders is EUR 246.52 together with the proposed EUR 26.52 dividend.
The proposed dividend was endorsed today, with the company earmarking almost all of its EUR 21.55m in distributable profit from 2017 for this purpose.
Director general Tomaž Benčina told the press after the AGM that the proposal from Modra Zavarovalnica meant Cinkarna Celje would be buying its own shares next year at a somewhat higher price than originally proposed.
"This is a reflection of the developments on the stock market and expectations from our shareholders," he said, referring to the company's stock gaining more than 10% in the last three days to EUR 265.
Benčina noted that some shareholders were not satisfied with the bid from the prospective acquirer, which has already acquired 16,000 shares or a 2% stake in the company.
He added that Cinkarna Celje was gearing up for a major investment into environmental measures worth a total of EUR 20m.
Modra Zavarovalnica CEO Borut Jamnik too assessed that the shareholders were not satisfied with the bid and that Anatol, which plans to involve the US private equity fund KKR as a financer, had underestimated the target.
Asked whether the takeover could be successful, Jamnik said that everything was possible but noted that the state was a major shareholders in the company, but not a majority owner.
The in-house trade union is not happy with the names standing behind the bid and believes that the acquirers would only like to make as much profit on Cinkarna as possible and then sell it on at a higher price.