Russia's Acron again extends bid deadline for Poland's ZAT

21 June 2012 16:51  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Acron Group has for a second time extended the deadline for shareholders to accept its offer for their holdings in Polish chemical group Zaklady Azoty Tarnow (ZAT), the Russian mineral fertilizer producer said on Thursday.

The deadline, which was initially extended from 22 June to 29 June, has now been moved to 6 July, it added.

Acron is offering to pay a total of (Zl) Zl 1.5bn ($448m, €354m) to shareholders who hold up to 66% of ZAT, Poland's largest chemical group and a producer of nitrogen and multi-component fertilizers, caprolactam (capro), polyamide 6 (or nylon 6), oxo-alcohols, plasticisers and titanium dioxide (TiO2).

However, both the Polish treasury ministry which has a controlling holding of 32.05% in ZAT, and the managing board of the group have opposed the offer, saying it undervalues the company and poses a threat to its expansion strategy.

A source at the treasury ministry has also conceded that another problem is that it is still politically difficult for the Polish government to agree to the sale of a major state asset to a company from historical rival Russia.

Acron has said it is surprised at the ministry's position, stating its offer was a fair response to its privatisation plans for state chemical assets and would bring ZAT access to cheap raw materials.

On 15 June, ZAT announced it was attempting to put in place a 'poison pill' defence against the Acron bid.

The ZAT management board plans to ask shareholders at a 14 July meeting to give it the option of raising the share capital of the company by 75% within the next three years.

The move would mean that any substantial holding in ZAT that comes into the possession of Acron from its current share call would be diluted.

In order to vote on the plan, shareholders must register their shares by 28 June. The registration deadline will thus effectively exclude Acron from the vote.

Poland's largest pension fund ING OFE, which holds 10.5% of ZAT, has stated that it will not back the poison pill move.

($1 = €0.79)
($1 = Zl 3.35, €1 = Zl 4.24)

By: Will Conroy
+44 20 8652 3214

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