Alberto Culver settles lawsuit over Unilever bid

NEW YORK (BestGrowthStock) – Alberto Culver Co (ACV.N: ) has agreed to settle a shareholder lawsuit over the beauty care company’s proposed $3.7 billion takeover by Unilever NV (UNc.AS: ) (ULVR.L: ).

The settlement is designed to address concerns that the merger agreement might have dissuaded other prospective acquirers from making better takeover bids, lawyers for the shareholders said.

It calls for Alberto Culver to lower the break-up fee it might pay should it back out of the merger to $100 million from $125 million, and requires its board to consider bids that qualify as superior, said the law firms Grant & Eisenhofer PA and Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann LLP.

Alberto Culver also agreed to postpone the planned shareholder vote on the merger to December 17 from December 13.

A Unilever spokeswoman confirmed the settlement, which it said enables it to avoid distracting litigation and “ensure that our transaction can move forward.”

Alberto Culver, based in Melrose Park, Illinois, declined to comment.

Unilever agreed on September 27 to pay $37.50 per share in cash for Alberto Culver, in its largest acquisition in a decade.

A merger would add brands such as VO5, TRESemme and Nexxus to Unilever’s own brands, which include Dove and Sunsilk.

The lawsuit was filed in Delaware Chancery Court, and the settlement requires court approval, the shareholders’ lawyers said. The plaintiffs include pension funds in Oklahoma and Florida and KBC Asset Management NV, court records show.

Alberto Culver closed up 2 cents at $37.22 on the New York Stock Exchange.

The case is Oklahoma Firefighters Pension and Retirement System et al v. Lavin et al, Delaware Chancery Court, No. 5879.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Additional reporting by Jonathan Lentz; Editing by Tim Dobbyn and Steve Orlofsky)

Alberto Culver settles lawsuit over Unilever bid