Beiersdorf, the Hamburg-headquartered German manufacturer of global consumer products, has long been seen as a possible target for the predations of Procter & Gamble [WAMN: 13-Dec-02].

Observers believe the Cincinnati giant is now poised to strike, a view shared both by the good burghers of the City of Hamburg and German coffee manufacturer Tchibo Holdings.

The latter holds a 30.1% stake in Beiersdorf whose Nivea skincare product range leads an array of multinational brands including cosmetics and personal care, wound care, and adhesive tapes.

Together with the City of Hamburg, Tchibo is negotiating to buy all or part of the 43.6% stake in Beiersdorf held by German insurance group Allianz. Three-way talks are due to begin later this week and success would enable the duo to block any bid by P&G to gain control.

In a letter to Allianz chief executive Michael Diekmann and cfo Paul Achleitner, Tchibo ceo Dieter Ammer said his company and the city are ready and able to have a done deal by the year's end.

According to one insider: "Tchibo will meet with Allianz to make an offer for around 20%, and a consortium will make an offer for the rest." Hamburg is prepared to contribute €1 billion ($1.17bn; £0,70bn) or more to the bid, said the informant, who added: "They are all friends of the region and want to ensure that Allianz receives a fair offer."

This unusual civic involvement in the snakepit of international bids and takeovers may been seen as a template by other European towns and cities anxious to safeguard employment within their regions.

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff