March 22, 2018 / 8:15 AM / 9 months ago

U.S. firm Starwood seeks stakes in Austrian property groups, shares rise

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Austrian property goup CA Immo is pictured during a news conference in Vienna, Austria, March 22, 2016. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader/File Photo

VIENNA (Reuters) - U.S. private equity firm Starwood Capital Group announced bids on Thursday to acquire a quarter of Austrian property company CA Immo and a smaller stake in its rival Immofinanz, sending shares in both higher.

A Luxembourg-based unit of Starwood is offering CA Immo shareholders 27.50 euros per share, minus any dividend paid, a slight premium to Wednesday’s closing price of 26.54 euros. It is seeking to acquire up to 26 percent of the company, it said.

Starwood, which specializes in real estate, is offering Immofinanz shareholders 2.10 euros per share, minus any dividend, also slightly above Wednesday’s closing price of 2.008 euros. Starwood aims to acquire up to 5 percent of the firm.

Shares in both companies moved towards those offer prices in early trading after the early-morning announcement. By 0825 GMT CA Immo shares had risen 3.7 percent to 27.52 euros and Immofinanz’s were up 4.1 percent at 2.09 euros.

“We believe that the substantial capital resources and experience we can contribute as a strategic shareholder of CA Immo and Immofinanz could provide significant value,” Starwood said in a statement, adding that it supports both companies’ management teams.

A spokeswoman for CA Immo declined to comment on the offer. Immofinanz was not immediately available for comment.

Immofinanz last month effectively abandoned its plan to merge with CA Immo following pressure from an activist investor, saying it was now considering selling its 26 percent stake in its rival.

“It is not the intention of the bidder to completely take over CA Immo and Immofinanz with these takeover offers. Upon completion of both takeover offers, CA Immo and Immofinanz shall remain listed on the Vienna Stock Exchange,” Starwood said.

Reporting by Francois Murphy and Alexandra Schwarz-Goerlich; Editing by Mark Potter and Adrian Croft

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