Asahi Glass confident will obtain at least 95 pct of Glaverbel

Asahi Glass Co Ltd is confident it will obtain the 95 pct of Glaverbel which would enable it to launch a squeeze out operation to obtain the remaining shares, sources close to Glaverbel and Asahi said.

Asahi reopened its 145 eur per share offer for the shares after obtaining 91.45 pct of the company -- above the 90 pct level which made the bid unconditional.The bid, which has been supported by Glaverbel management, runs until May 6."If we reach 95 pct -- and we are confident we will -- then we can force minorities to tender their shares at 145 eur," said one source.

The front of hedge funds which had taken stakes in Glaverbel to speculate on a higher price than the 145 eur has clearly started to crumble, the sources note.

Tudor Capital, which had 6.08 pct of Glaverbel tendered its shares in the first bid.

Delaware-based OZ Management, which had built up a 5.43 pct stake in Glaverbel, has run it down to 3.18 pct, the daily De Financieel-Economische Tijd said.

A third fund, Fortis Asset Management, holds an unknown block of Glaverbel shares, although, as there has been no bourse declaration, it must not have reached 5 pct.

The sources noted that the fund took a different view to that of Fortis Bank's analysts, which they said was not illogical given the "Chinese walls" in place at Fortis.

Fortis Bank recommended minority shareholders should accept the Asahi bid as they have "no real choice".

The bank nevertheless said the price does not reflect the European glass industry's ever more disciplined attitude to pricing and so the prospect of less volatile Glaverbel results in future, or the probable successful turnaround in Glaverbel's automobile division.

Under Belgian commercial law, reaching 95 pct in a company enables the bidder - if it chooses - to launch a squeeze-out operation which obliges remaining shareholders to tender their shares at the takeover bid price.

600450 Asahi Glass confident will obtain at least 95 pct of Glaverbel glassonweb.com
Date: 30 April 2002
Source: FT

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