The R15/share bid this week by Murray & Roberts (M&R) shareholder Aton for all of the company’s ordinary shares has taken most people by surprise.However, the family-owned German investment firm started buying sizeable chunks of the JSE-listed company as far back as September 2015, so perhaps it was a matter of time.In February last year Aton bought 25.5% of M&R, fuelling speculation of a takeover bid. The firm has investments in international mining, engineering, aviation and health technology. Three months later it owned nearly 30% of M&R, which had done a fine job repositioning itself from a construction firm to a global player in the mining, oil and gas, and energy and water sectors.Now, in terms of a R4.7bn cash offer announced this week, Aton hopes to buy another 3.1% of ordinary shares that will give it 33.1% of M&R. This is close to triggering a general offer to minorities according to JSE rules.However, an "independent board" assembled by M&R’s board after the Aton announce...

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