January 19, 2018 / 1:13 PM / 6 months ago

Fortum gets 47 percent of Uniper, hopes for more in second round

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Fortum (FORTUM.HE) has received just 46.93 percent of shares in German energy group Uniper (UN01.DE), which the Finnish company is trying to buy via a 8.05 billion euros ($9.88 billion) takeover bid.

Uniper rejected Fortum’s bid last year, saying it undervalued the company and might lead to it being broken up if the bid was successful.

Fortum said on Friday it was happy with the number of shares it had received by a Jan. 16 deadline and hoped to get more.

“We have reached what we were after at first, but of course we hope we could get more shares,” Fortum spokeswoman Ingela Ulfves said by phone.

“We are not going to increase the offer... as we have said before, it is on a good level.”

The figure includes a 46.65 percent stake which Fortum agreed to buy from E.ON (EONGn.DE) in September. Fortum then had to launch a full bid for Uniper to comply with German takeover rules.

Analysts are skeptical about Fortum’s chances of raising its stake in Uniper without raising its bid.

Fortum has offered 22 euros per Uniper share while the stock trades at 25.2 euros. An additional offer period will take place between Jan. 20 and Feb. 2.

Uniper says the combination makes little strategic sense given Uniper’s heavy exposure to gas- and coal-fired power plants, compared with Fortum’s focus on clean technologies.

“We are pleased that the vast majority of our shareholders followed our guidance and did not accept Fortum’s offer... The unchanged offer price... continues to be unattractive and does not reflect Uniper’s value,” Uniper CEO Klaus Schaefer said in a statement.

Analyst Karri Rinta from Handelsbanken said Fortum would need three quarters of votes in Uniper to be able to consolidate the company.

“They’d best let time pass and not hurry to get a bigger ownership, and learn what they can achieve with the current stake,” he said.

Sources have said that Fortum was mainly interested in Uniper’s hydropower and nuclear power assets and could restructure other parts of the company. Fortum has denied such plans.

Uniper ran an advertising campaign in Finnish newspapers last year, arguing that its coal-fired plants were not a good fit with Fortum. There were also market rumors that Finnish government would review state-controlled Fortum’s bid.

Fortum CEO Pekka Lundmark has called for dialogue with Uniper. Fortum spokeswoman Ulfves declined to comment on how talks had proceeded.

Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl; editing by Terje Solsvik and Jane Merriman

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