Saint-Gobain says BPB accepted takeover bid

CIE de Saint-Gobain SA, which makes the insulation for one in three European homes, said shareholders owning 86 percent of UK-based BPB Plc have accepted its 3.89-billion-pound (US$6.7 billion) takeover bid.

Investors holding 432.7 million out of 502.4 million BPB shares tendered their stock by Friday's deadline in London, Saint-Gobain, based near Paris, said in a Regulatory News Service statement. It declared the offer unconditional.

The French company will combine BPB, the world's biggest producer of gypsum, with its insulation business to create the No. 1 maker of building interiors such as walls and ceilings. Based in Slough, southern England, BPB accepted a 775 pence-a-share offer last month after rejecting earlier approaches from Saint-Gobain Chairman and Chief Executive Jean-Louis Beffa.

"Saint-Gobain announces that all conditions of the recommended offer have been satisfied or waived," the French bidder said in its statement. The offer will remain open for acceptance until further notice, it said.

Three century-old Saint-Gobain, Europe's biggest distributor of building materials, gains leadership in a board-and-gypsum industry with sales growth twice that of construction as a whole.

It's buying a business whose sales have increased almost 50 percent in four years as demand for more user-friendly building materials surges, with countries such as China and India increasingly adopting modern construction methods.

The purchase price is 51 percent more than BPB's close on July 20, the day before Saint-Gobain first indicated it was considering a bid.

BPB ranks No. 1 in world production of plasterboard, made up of layers of fiber and paper bonded to a gypsum-plaster core. Invented in the US in 1888, plasterboard has come to replace lath and plaster, a system in which wet plaster is applied to strips of wood in a method akin to the centuries-old practice of wattle and daub, which used sticks with mud or dung.

The UK company has almost 13,000 employees and annual sales of 2.32 billion pounds, according to Bloomberg data; Saint-Gobain has 175,000 workers and revenue of 32 billion euros.

600450 Saint-Gobain says BPB accepted takeover bid
Date: 6 December 2005

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