Wella Shareholders Hold Out Against P&G

24 June 2003

Procter & Gamble is still struggling to take full control of German cosmetics firm Wella.

Despite winning over most minority shareholders, the US giant faces a hardcore group of investors who hold non-voting preference stock and are refusing to accept P&G’s offer of €65 ($75; £45) per share.

P&G is guaranteed control of the group, having agreed to buy 78% of voting rights from Wella’s Ströher clan [WAMN: 18-Mar-03]. It subsequently made a bid for the outstanding shares in order to delist the German company, but holders of non-voting stock are upset that the price is not nearer the €92.25 on the table for voting shares.

Last week, P&G secured the stake of German rival Henkel, which was mulling a takeover bid of its own before being trumped by the US group and amassed a 7% holding in the process.

However, UK investment bank Close Brothers has revealed that a group of preference shareholders it advises will not take up P&G’s offer. This group holds around 35.5% of this non-voting stock – around 12.3% of all shares and enough to prevent P&G delisting Wella.

P&G has steadfastly refused to raise its offer and insists it can push through its business plan for the new acquisition whether it has full control or not.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff