Australia’s Perpetual working on KKR approach

By Michael Smith

SYDNEY (BestGrowthStock) – Australian fund manager Perpetual is seeking to resolve negotiations over a bid from Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co worth up to $1.73 billion as soon as possible, but believes the process may take time.

Perpetual’s new chairman Peter Scott said on Tuesday the company was working with KKR on a breakdown of information the two sides would agree to exchange as part of takeover talks.

Perpetual said earlier this week that KKR’s offer was low but it would continue talks with the buyout firm, indicating it may agree to a deal under better terms. However, KKR would only have access to limited financial information.

“Just getting confidentiality agreements in place etc. may take some time but from Perpetual’s perspective we will be working very, very hard to get this situation resolved as quickly as we can,” Scott told Reuters in an interview following the company’s annual general meeting.

Scott declined to say if Perpetual was talking to other potential rival bidders, or what he believed was fair value for the company.

However, he said the fund manager had received a mixed response from its diverse group of shareholders to the offer.

He played down comments made by a shareholder during the meeting that the KKR bid was a wake-up call for the company to consider splitting its trusteeship and investment units.

“That is not part of the plan at the moment. No work is being done on a demerger. We hear what the shareholder said, we take the request on board but it’s not part of the work we are doing at the moment,” Scott said.

Scott re-placed outgoing chairman Robert Savage at the annual shareholder meeting.

Perpetual, one of Australia’s top independent fund managers in the $1 trillion wealth management sector behind AMP and AXA Asia Pacific, said on Monday it would give limited financial information to KKR and seek its deal intentions.

Investors expect KKR — if it wins over the company — to split Perpetual’s wealth management business from its corporate trustee unit and leverage the debt free wealth business to accelerate growth.

KKR offered A$38 to A$40 a share when Perpetual’s shares were trading at A$30.97. Perpetual shares closed on Tuesday at A$37.90.

(Editing by Ed Davies)

Australia’s Perpetual working on KKR approach