PIC spurns Aton’s offer for all its Murray & Roberts shares
The move follows M&R's earlier rejection of Aton’s buyout offer, which valued the company at about R6.7bn
The Public Investment Corporation (PIC), the second-largest shareholder in JSE-listed Murray & Roberts, has rejected an offer by German family investment company Aton to buy all of the engineering group’s ordinary shares.
The PIC holds a 20.1% stake in Murray & Roberts. Aton, with global investments in mining, aviation and medical technology, is Murray & Roberts’ biggest shareholder with nearly 40% of its voting rights after making a firm offer of R15 a share. Murray & Roberts had earlier rejected Aton’s buyout offer, which valued the company at about R6.7bn.
The PIC agreed with the Murray & Roberts board that the offer by Aton "materially undervalues [the company]", Deon Botha, head of corporate affairs at the PIC, said on Monday.
The PIC also said it was against the "proposed" delisting of Murray and Roberts. But Aton CEO Thomas Eichelmann had said last week the privately held German group had no "current" intention of dismantling the company and was not seeking to delist it. However, Aton had indicated in its offer documents that Murray & Roberts’ Gautrain interests were "non-core" to the group and would likely better be held by other parties.
Eichelmann had said Aton supported SA’s and the group’s black economic empowerment undertakings and sought to provide Murray & Roberts with a stable global operating platform. Aton reiterated its commitment to the long-term strategic sustainability of Murray & Roberts, he said.
Aton has made it clear it wants 100% of the group and will only accept a minimum 50% plus one share controlling stake. In recent years, Murray & Roberts has turned its engineering prowess towards global underground mining, oil and gas, and power and water markets. To this end, it has sold 100% of its civil construction and building business to black economic empowerment interests.
Aton’s offer follows previous engagements between Aton and the Murray & Roberts board regarding a possible transaction between Aton’s Canadian subsidiary, Redpath Mining, and Murray & Roberts’s Cementation business. Both are world leaders in underground mining.