Kewill Surges After Symphony Bid Tops Rival Offer: London Mover

Kewill Plc (KWL), a U.K. supply-chain software company, rose to the highest price in a year after accepting a takeover offer that trumped a bid from a private- equity firm that was due to be considered by a court today.

Kewill jumped 13 percent to 107.5 pence, the highest since April 2011, making the Guildford, England-based company the biggest gainer in the FTSE All-Share Index. (ASX) The shares closed in London just above the 106 pence-a-share offer from Symphony Technology Group, based in Palo Alto, California.

Symphony’s offer, announced yesterday after the U.K. market closed, tops an agreed bid of 96 pence a share made by San Francisco-based Francisco Partners on May 2. Symphony, which is also a private-equity firm, made its offer through Kestrel Bidco Ltd., and Francisco acted through Kinetic Bidco Ltd.

Kewill said last month that the growing complexity of global trade and regulations creates steady demand for its products and services, even as organic growth “remained disappointing due to continuing challenging market conditions.” Its clients include Deutsche Post AG’s DHL unit; TNT Express NV (TNTE), the Dutch express-delivery company being bought by United Parcel Service Inc.; and Irish industrial group Ingersoll-Rand Plc. (IR)

The U.K. company said late yesterday in a statement that Symphony’s offer was “materially better” than Francisco’s. “The Kewill directors’ recommendation of the Kinetic offer has accordingly been withdrawn with immediate effect in favor of the acquisition.”

40 Percent

Symphony’s offer, which values the company at about 99.6 million pounds ($155 million), according to Kewill, is almost 40 percent above the share price the day before the Francisco bid. It has the support of Aviva Investors, Henderson Global Investors and Herald Investment Management, which own 8.5 percent of Kewill.

Kewill, founded in 1972, has offices in eight countries including the U.S., China and Germany. The company’s software assists e-commerce and helps customers accelerate customs clearance and logistics.

The court hearing to consider the earlier offer was adjourned, Kewill said today, and the new bid will be implemented through a court-sanctioned scheme of arrangement. Investec Bank Plc is acting for Kewill in the sale.

To contact the reporter on this story: Peter Woodifield in Edinburgh at pwoodifield@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Douglas Lytle at dlytle@bloomberg.net.

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