January 23, 2018 / 2:44 PM / a month ago

Fortum boss gives Uniper activist shareholders the cold shoulder

BERLIN (Reuters) - Finland’s Fortum (FORTUM.HE) will not enter talks with activist shareholders in Uniper (UN01.DE) to try and win them over to its 8.05 billion euro ($9.9 bln) bid for the German energy group, its chief executive said on Tuesday.

“We don’t need any deals with the activists,” Pekka Lundmark told reporters at an energy conference in Berlin.

His remarks pour cold water on any expectations that Fortum could increase its 22 euros per share offer for Uniper in order to secure shareholder support. Its takeover offer is due to expire on Feb. 2.

Last month, activist investors Knight Vinke and Elliott Management both disclosed stakes in Uniper, but Knight Vinke said it would not tender its stake under Fortum’s offer, which is below Uniper’s current share price of 25.02 euros.

Elliott, which has a 7.38 percent stake, has not said what it intends to do.

Fortum this month secured E.ON’s (EONGn.DE) 46.65 percent stake in Uniper, which the German firm had retained after spinning off Uniper in 2016. But including E.ON’s stake, Uniper shareholders have so far tendered just 46.93 percent of shares to Fortum.

Investment bank UBS has flagged the possibility of a buyout of other investors, possibly via a second bid for the outstanding shares.

    E.ON’s Chief Executive Johannes Teyssen said on Tuesday that he expected the activist investors to eventually seek talks with Fortum’s management.

    Fortum has previously said that it was interested primarily in buying E.ON’s stake rather than acquiring full control of Uniper. However, under German takeover rules, companies must make a takeover bid for a target firm if they intend to buy a stake of more than 30 percent.

    “We are happy to take all the shares that are tendered to us but ... in this whole journey we have been focusing on the E.ON stake,” Lundmark said, adding the full takeover offer had been a “side product” of that process.

    ($1 = 0.8139 euros)

    Reporting by Christoph Steitz, Tom Kaeckenhoff and Vera Eckert; Editing by Douglas Busvine and Susan Fenton

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