Asahi Glass Eyes Belgian Firm

Japan's largest glass maker, Asahi Glass Co. Ltd, announced Friday it will launch a $415 million public tender next week for the 35 percent of Belgian glass maker Glaverbel SA it doesn't already own.

Masayuki Kamiya, director of corporate planning at Asahi Glass, said he was planning to begin the offer on Monday after securing clearance to proceed from Belgium's Banking and Finance Commission.

The commission on Thursday approved the prospectus after twice delaying a decision. It wanted Asahi to provide further information about the offered price after independent directors at the Belgian glass maker raised concerns.

In December, Asahi offered 145 euros ($128) a share, or 470 million euros in all, for outstanding shares in Glaverbel. The six Japanese board members voted in favor of the bid. But chief executive Luc Willame, the chief financial officer and three independent directors voted against it, saying the price was too low.

Glaverbel is a flat glass producer with plants throughout Europe and a worldwide commercial network.

Kamiya said he was ``confident'' that Asahi would secure the requisite 90 percent of Glaverbel's shares in the tender, which will run for 10 working days.

Glaverbel shares were down 20 cents to 144.60 euros in early trading Friday.

Several funds, including Delaware-based OZ Management, had acquired shares in Glaverbel in recent weeks, hoping the Japanese company would raise the price, but Kamiya says it won't do that.

``We have no intention of increasing the price,'' Kamiya said.

Kamiya said Asahi would cancel the tender if it failed to secure the minimum number of shares.

600450 Asahi Glass Eyes Belgian Firm
Date: 15 March 2002
Source: Associated press

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