MRHLD:  1,679   0 (0.00%)  18/10/2018 00:00

Independent board advises Murray & Roberts shareholders to reject ATON bid

JOHANNESBURG, April 20 (Reuters) - South Africa construction company Murray & Roberts (M&R) said on Friday that an independent board had recommended that its shareholders reject a takeover bid by Germany's ATON, the latest rebuff to the acquisition attempt.

M&R reported interim profits that more than doubled, in part due to higher earnings from its underground mining activities, a sign of an upswing in the commodities sector which has made it an attractive target.

"It was clear to the Independent Board upfront that ATONís approach was opportunistic and timed to coincide with unprecedented weakness in the companyís share price," M&R said in a statement.

"The Independent Board, having taken the advice of (an) independent expert, communicated to shareholders its view that the ATON offer materially undervalued the strategic platforms and business prospects of Murray & Roberts," it said.

M&R's biggest shareholder German investor Lutz Helmig's ATON, which owns more than a third of the South African group, made a buyout offer of 15 rand ($1.25) per share for M&R last month valuing the company at close to $600 million.

M&R rejected the bid saying it undervalued the company and its second biggest shareholder, South Africa's Public Investment Corporation, has also snubbed the overture. An independent report has shown that a fair offer for the company would be as much as 22 rand per share.

The company's share price closed at 15.20 rand on Thursday, almost double its 2018 low of 8.70 rand hit on March 22. When the planned buyout was announced on March 26, Murray & Roberts' share price was close to a two-year low, according to Thomson Reuters' data.

($1 = 11.9847 rand) (Reporting by Ed Stoddard Editing by Edmund Blair)

2018-04-20 08:30:53

© 2018 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. Reuters content is the intellectual property of Thomson Reuters or its third party content providers. Any copying, republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. "Reuters" and the Reuters Logo are trademarks of Thomson Reuters and its affiliated companies.