March 28, 2018 / 12:02 PM / a year ago

ATON's bid in South Africa's Murray & Roberts rejected by major shareholder

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - The buyout bid from Germany’s ATON for Murray & Roberts (M&R) (MURJ.J) could be in doubt after the fourth-largest shareholder in South African engineering and construction company, rejected their offer.

Financial services conglomerate Old Mutual OML.L OMLJ.J holds about 5 percent of M&R, whose board snubbed the offer from its biggest shareholder ATON, a company owned by German investor Lutz Helmig.

“The offer of 15 rand ($1.30) per share is below what we believe is fair value. As a result we won’t be committing to sell into this price,” Brian Pyle, an analyst at Old Mutual’s equity investment arm, told Reuters.

M&R has rejected ATON’s buyout offer as “opportunistic” and poor value for shareholders.

ATON responded by saying it would wait to hear from shareholders as the offer was “not subject to due diligence and its only condition is obtaining 50 percent plus one share.”

Shares in M&R weakened in early trade on Wednesday, extending losses to the second day after the company’s board rejected the offer from Germany’s ATON.

ATON said it has the backing of M&R’s third largest shareholder, Allan Gray, representing a stake of about 11 percent.

The Public Investment Corporation, the company’s second largest shareholder, said on Wednesday that it could not comment on the bid prior to voting.

“The PIC’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) policy for listed investments prohibits us from publicly expressing a view before voting takes place,” Deon Botha, head of corporate affairs at the PIC, told Reuters.

At 1147 GMT, M&R was down 0.30 percent to 13.41 rand.

Reporting by Nqobile Dludla and Patricia Aruo; Editing by James Macharia

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