DuPont extends Danisco offer after low uptake

By Teis Jensen

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – U.S. chemicals group DuPont extended its $6 billion takeover bid for Danisco by four weeks after holders of only 6 percent of the Danish company’s shares had accepted the offer.

DuPont said the offer was extended to April 29 to provide more time to get regulatory approvals from China and the European Union, the absence of which some say could be restraining the offer uptake.

“As long as there is uncertainty about the competition authorities, it is difficult to get shareholders’ final acceptance, Sydbank analyst Morten Imsgard said.”

As it stands, DuPont’s estimate of 6 percent acceptances up to March 29 was far below the 90 percent acceptance level that DuPont has required to carry out the deal and delist Danisco.

The extension of the 665 Danish crowns ($125.6) per share offer for the Danish food ingredients and enzymes producer came amid growing doubts about whether DuPont will be able to carry out the deal following recent turbulence in the markets.

Analysts said this week that market turmoil in the wake of crises in the Middle East and Japan would make DuPont increasingly disinclined to raise its bid, while at the same time many Danisco shareholders were holding out for more money.

Acceptances of the bid crept up by only one percentage point from the 5 percent acceptance level that DuPont announced the previous time it extended the bid on February 18.

DuPont said in the statement that the acceptance level was “in line with similar past voluntary tender offers in Denmark at this stage of the offer.”

But Alm. Brand analyst Michael Friis Jorgensen said: “The acceptance level of 6 percent is only marginally higher than the last time … and I think it suggests that it will be difficult for them.”

“I think it indicates that it will be very difficult for them at the current price to get acceptance of the offer,” Jorgensen said.

KEEN ON DANISCO’S TECHNOLOGY

Shares in Danisco, which have hovered just below the bid level since the deal was announced in January, were flat at 664 crowns at 1001 GMT, underperforming a 1.1 percent rise in the Copenhagen bourse bluechip index.

DuPont has repeatedly said it will not raise its bid, which was announced and recommended by Danisco’s board.

Two weeks ago, after Danisco reported forecast-beating earnings for the third quarter and raised full-year guidance, DuPont’s Chief Executive Ellen Kullman said the offer remained “full, fair, and firm.”

For the U.S. chemicals company, acquiring Danisco is part of a push into a high-tech part of the food business and into enzymes for, among other things, biofuels production, which is seen as a growth sector.

Earlier this month, the head of DuPont’s nutrition and biosciences unit told the Reuters Global Food and Agriculture Summit that he was eager to start using Danisco’s expertise to expand development of healthier foods.

DuPont reaffirmed on Wednesday it was still confident it would get regulatory approval for the deal from China and the European Union after earlier obtaining competition approval in the United States.

“I think we will get clarity in the days running up to the final offer deadline,” Sydbank’s Imsgard said.

The offer period would run until April 29 instead of April 1, and the result of the offer is expected to be published on May 2, DuPont said in a statement.

The terms and conditions of the offer as set forth in the offer document remained unchanged, DuPont added.

($1=5.294 Danish Crown)

(Additional reporting by Mette Fraende)

(Writing by John Acher; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter and Hans Peters)

DuPont extends Danisco offer after low uptake