Metro says new takeover offer undervalues company

BERLIN (Reuters) - Metro B4B.DE said on Monday that a new offer from EP Global Commerce, an acquisition vehicle owned by Czech and Slovak investors, to increase their stake in the company substantially undervalued the German wholesaler.

EP Global Commerce, which already indirectly owns 29.99% percent of the ordinary shares and voting rights in Metro, said on Sunday it would offer 8.48 euros per ordinary share and some 8.87 euros per preference share.

The shares were trading up 7.26% at 8.92 euros at 1013 GMT.

“The management board of Metro strongly believes that the offer substantially undervalues the company,” Metro said in a statement, adding it advised shareholders not to take any action until it comments more comprehensively.

EP Global Commerce failed last year with a 5.8 billion euro (5.35 billion pounds) bid for Metro after failing to win over shareholders Meridian Stiftung and Beisheim Holding, which together hold a 23% stake in the company.

Meridian and Beisheim rejected the new offer.

“We are surprised by the offer, which only reflects the share price, and will not react to it,” a spokesman said, adding that Metro should focus on making a new start after selling its business in China and the struggling Real hypermarkets unit.

EP Global Commerce, co-owned by Czech investor Daniel Kretinsky and Slovak partner Patrik Tkac, did not set a minimum acceptance threshold and said it does not expect to hold more than 50% of the voting rights following settlement of the offer.

Jefferies analyst James Grzinic said he expected EP Global Commerce to still make a “creeping takeover approach”.

“We expect Metro to trade well above the new takeover conditions in anticipation of EPGC buying shares in the open market,” Grzinic wrote.

Metro has been selling assets in recent years to focus on its business supplying hotels, restaurants and independent traders. It is looking for a new chief executive after long-time boss Olaf Koch said he would leave by the end of the year.

Reporting by Alexander Huebner and Tom Kaeckenhoff; writing by Emma Thomasson; editing by Michelle Adair and Emelia Sithole-Matarise