(Reuters) - Belgian publisher Mediahuis and partner VP Exploitatie have launched a recommended cash offer for the Netherlands’ Telegraaf Media Group (TLGNc.AS), the three parties said in a statement, as they try to build a Dutch-Belgian multimedia company.
TMG’s supervisory board said on Wednesday it unanimously supported the offer of 6 euros ($6.43) per share, and recommended shareholders accept and tender all their shares to the offer.
The board’s backing is a blow to Dutch tycoon John de Mol, who, through his investment vehicle Talpa, had launched a counteroffer, setting off a bidding war over the owner of the Netherlands’ largest paper in late January.
Mediahuis’ offer price represents a 73 percent premium to the Dec. 13, 2016, closing price of 3.48 euros, the day before the merger talks first surfaced, but falls 5 percent short of Tuesday’s 6.30 euro closing price.
De Mol, best known as the creator of hit television show Big Brother, in March raised his counterbid to 6.50 euros per share, or around 300 million euros, but the board has now backed the lower bid of around 274 million euros.
The Mediahuis-led consortium already holds a 60 percent stake in TMG, notably via the Van Puijenbroek family, which has held shares in De Telegraaf since the 1950s, and expects to complete the offer in July 2017.
De Mol’s Talpa Holding has built a rival 25 percent stake in TMG, which he had earlier pledged not to sell, effectively blocking Mediahuis’ intent to reach the 95 percent threshold required to initiate buy-out proceedings and take the company private.
The combined group would continue to focus on its core news division under the leadership of current Mediahuis chairman Marc Vangeel as chief executive, TMG and Mediahuis said.
TMG publishes the popular Telegraaf daily and also owns Sky Radio and several leading magazine titles in the Netherlands, while Mediahuis owns another major Dutch newspaper, NRC Handelsblad.
De Mol’s Talpa owns 33 percent of television broadcaster SNS and several leading Dutch radio stations.
($1 = 0.9336 euros)
Reporting by Wout Vergauwen; Editing by Adrian Croft and Alison Williams