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Akzo Nobel takes on PPG in battle to buy Finland's Tikkurila

Bart H. Meijer
·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Cans of Dulux paint, an Akzo Nobel brand, are seen on the shelves of a hardware store near Manchester, Britain.

By Bart H. Meijer

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch paints and coatings maker Akzo Nobel locked horns with U.S. rival PPG Industries again on Monday, making a $1.7 billion counterbid for Finland's Tikkurila.

Akzo said it was willing to pay 31.25 euros per outstanding share, valuing Tikkurila at 1.4 billion euros, exceeding the 1.2 billion euros offered by PPG two weeks ago.

It invited the Finnish company's board, which had already agreed to PPG's offer, to enter talks. Relations between the Dutch and American firms soured in 2017 when PPG made an unsuccessful attempt to buy Akzo for $26.5 billion.

Investors in Tikkurila were not convinced that Akzo's non-binding bid would immediately end the battle, as its share price soared 17% to 32.60 euros ($39.33), well above Akzo's offer.

Tikkurila said in a statement it would take Akzo's offer into consideration, while under the terms of their agreement PPG would first get the opportunity to raise its bid.

PPG could not immediately be reached for comment.

Akzo shares were 2% lower in Amsterdam, as ING analysts said its current bid was already relatively high and warned of the risk of a bidding war over Tikkurila.

Thierry Vanlancker, Akzo Chief Executive, said he had made a "rational bid" which was aimed at strengthening Akzo's position in the region and not at defending itself against PPG.

"This is an offer that we make very much with a calculator in hand. In any subsequent steps we will continue to be as rational as we have been before," Vanlancker added.

PPG increased its original bid on Jan. 5 after Tikkurila said it had received a competing offer, which the Finnish company on Monday revealed had come from Danish peer Hempel.

"The timing was we were now ready to do it, and given what was on the table it was also time to do it now," Vanlancker said, adding it was a rare opportunity.

"If a farmer sees his neighbour is selling his land, he will always have a look," the CEO added.

Akzo said it would sell assets, including its decorative paints business in the Nordics and Baltics to Hempel after closing of the deal, in order to obtain regulatory approval.

Vanlancker did not provide details on this deal.

(Reporting by Bart Meijer and Tarmo Virki; Editing by Kirsten Donovan, Edmund Blair, Jason Neely and Alexander Smith)