March 24, 2017 / 10:25 AM / in 8 months

PPG chief snubbed by Akzo during Netherlands visit

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A team of executives from U.S. paint maker PPG (PPG.N) left the Netherlands on Friday without meeting their counterparts at Akzo Nobel during a two-day charm offensive to win support for their proposed takeover of their Dutch rival.

FILE PHOTO: AkzoNobel's logo is seen in Amsterdam, Netherlands, February 16, 2012. REUTERS/Robin van Lonkhuijsen/United Photos/File Photo

PPG’s public relations blitz followed Akzo’s rejection of a March 20 takeover offer, a decision which has raised protests from shareholders who say the U.S. company’s bid deserves a fair hearing.

Akzo Nobel shares were down 0.1 percent at 77.84 euros on Friday afternoon, well below the 89.6 euros implied by PPG’s cash and share offer, which values Akzo’s share capital at $24.4 billion.

PPG Chief Executive Michael McGarry remained open to meeting with Akzo Nobel representatives “anytime and anywhere”, a PPG spokesman said.

But a spokesman for Akzo said no meetings were planned, repeating statements by Akzo CEO Ton Buechner that the current proposal was not sufficient to warrant any engagement with the U.S firm.

During their two-day visit, PPG’s team met local media, officials from the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Akzo Noble shareholders and the VEB, an organization that represents shareholders in the Netherlands.

McGarry met Bertholt Leeftink, Director-General Enterprise and Innovation at the Economic Affairs Ministry in The Hague, a ministry spokesman said. He declined to provide details.

But the PPG team failed to meet any Akzo officials or labor unions.

“To be honest, we don’t want a deal with the Americans,” said Erik de Vries, a representative of Akzo’s main labor union FNV. “We have major concerns about their plans for job cuts.”

Akzo has said PPG’s offer, “not only fails to reflect the current and future value of Akzo Nobel, it also neglects to address the significant uncertainties and risks for shareholders and other stakeholders”.

Under Dutch law, the company’s boards must take the interests of employees and customers into account when making major strategic decisions, along with those of shareholders.

Many of Akzo’s shareholders have urged Buechner to meet PPG’s McGarry. A poll of 50 Akzo Nobel shareholders published by Sanford Bernstein found that 80 percent of them wanted Akzo’s management to enter talks with Pittsburgh-based PPG.

About 7 percent of the company’s shareholder base is Dutch, while about 11 percent of its 46,000 employees are based in the Netherlands.

Reporting by Anthony Deutsch; editing by Keith Weir and David Clarke

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