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Schaeffler Group Reduces Debt, Buys Higher Stake in Continental

March 27 (Bloomberg) -- Schaeffler Group, the world’s second-biggest maker of roller bearings, has agreed with banks on refinancing for its debt and will increase its stake in Continental AG, Europe’s second-largest tiremaker,

German lenders M.M. Warburg and Bankhaus Metzler will each sell as many as 15 million shares in Continental through an accelerated bookbuilt offering and use the proceeds to reduce Schaeffler’s debt, Herzogenaurach, Bavaria-based Schaeffler said in an e-mailed statement today.

The rebound in the auto industry last year has boosted Continental’s sales and earnings. The company reported revenue and profit that beat analyst estimates for the fourth quarter and predicted rising sales from Asia this year will compensate for additional costs from surging rubber prices.

M.M. Warburg and Bankhaus Metzler will also each sell 7.7 million Continental shares to Schaeffler, which will increase its stake in the Hanover, Germany-based tiremaker to 49.9 percent from 42.2 percent, according to the statement.

The two banks won’t sell additional shares in the next 12 months, according to the company. The banks confirmed Schaeffler’s announcement in e-mailed statements.

To contact the reporter on this story: Holger Elfes in Dusseldorf Offc at helfes@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Celeste Perri at cperri@bloomberg.net

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