September 12, 2014 / 6:00 AM / 5 years ago

Denmark's Danfoss bids $1.3 bln for drive maker Vacon

HELSINKI/COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Danish energy firm Danfoss A/S has launched a bid to buy Finnish electric drive maker Vacon VAC1V.HE for an agreed 1.04 billion euros ($1.3 billion), the two firms said on Friday.

Unlisted Danfoss, which is known for its products used in air conditioning and heating buildings, said it was offering 34 euros in cash for each Vacon share, a premium of 13 percent to the stock’s closing price on Thursday.

Vacon shares jumped as high as 37.5 euros, suggesting some investors are hopeful of a higher offer or a rival bid.

By 0535 EDT, however, the stock had retreated to trade around the offer price.

Vacon, which makes variable-speed drives used to control speed in electrical motors, also cut its full-year profit and sales forecasts. It cited risks to order intake, without elaborating.

Danfoss has 23,000 employees and annual sales of around 4.5 billion euros, while Vacon employs around 1,600 people and has sales of about 400 million euros.

“We have a clear strategic ambition to be one of the absolute top players in the businesses where we operate,” Danfoss CEO Niels B. Christiansen said in a statement.

“Vacon is a very strong and innovative player and by creating this new drives business we can ensure a strong long-term growth trajectory.”

Vacon said its board of directors recommended the owners to accept the offer. Largest shareholder AC Invest Three has agreed to sell its stake of about 10 percent, and other owners representing in total about 14 percent are backing the deal with certain conditions, the company said.

Vacon abandoned its forecasts for full-year sales growth of 5-15 percent and a core operating profit margin in a range of 11-13 percent, compared with 10 percent in 2013. It said only that sales and margin would increase from last year.

“Expectations regarding order intake have weakened for the rest of the year,” it said.

In July, Vacon said its order intake was suffering from weak demand for products for building automation and renewable energy generation.

Analysts said the profit warning was not a big surprise, as they had considered the previous forecasts as ambitious.

“The stock is valued quite high, so altogether the offer looks pretty good from the shareholders’ point of view,” said Inderes analyst Antti Viljakainen.

Vacon stock has a price to earnings ratio of 23, about 50 percent higher than its Finnish peers on average, according to Thomson Reuters data.

(1 US dollar = 0.7734 euro)

Additional reporting by Teis Jensen; Editing by Mark Potter

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