March 1, 2017 / 11:54 AM / 6 months ago

Covestro CFO says any sale to industry player not off the table

FRANKFURT, March 1 (Reuters) - Bayer's sale of an 11 percent stake in chemicals subsidiary Covestro on the open market would not prevent the parent company from considering any takeover offers from industry players, Covestro's finance chief told Reuters.

Though Covestro would strongly prefer to remain independent, Bayer still has the option to consider takeover offers from any Covestro peer in chemicals and plastics, Chief Financial Officer Frank Lutz told Reuters on Wednesday.

"If a significant premium were to be offered, my understanding is that Bayer would have to take a look at it, if only to meet its fiduciary duties towards its own shareholders," he said.

German drugmaker Bayer sold 1.46 billion euros ($1.54 billion) worth of shares in Covestro on the open market late on Tuesday, cutting its stake to 53.3 percent as it seeks to finance the $66 billion takeover of seeds maker Monsanto .

Prior to the block transaction, Bayer said last week various ways to divest its stake in Covestro were on the cards, when asked about the possibility of a sale to an industry peer.

Lutz said he welcomed Bayer's move as it would invigorate trading activity in Covestro and put the maker of transparent plastics for blu-ray disks on the radar of larger institutional investors.

He said that the higher number of shares held in free float would likely qualify the stock for Germany's blue-chip index DAX , but added there was still some uncertainty about the other criterion, average daily trading volumes.

"We will see over the next few weeks whether there is enough trading activity." (Reporting by Ludwig Burger)

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