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Fiat Industrial Said to Weigh Kverneland Move After Kubota Bid

Fiat Industrial SpA is evaluating whether to raise or retract its offer for Kverneland ASA after Japanese competitor Kubota Corp. raised its bid to 1.62 billion kroner ($272 million), two people familiar with the matter said.

Fiat Industrial has almost completed a due diligence on Kverneland and is weighing its next move, said the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are private. A final decision hasn’t been taken, they said. Fiat Industrial may decide not to get into a bidding contest, one person said. A Fiat Industrial spokesman declined to comment.

Kubota, Fiat Industrial and Wuhu, China-based Chery Inc. have been locked in a three-way contest for the fifth-largest maker of farm machinery and equipment in Europe. Fiat Industrial aims to expand in northern Europe and to widen CNH’s product range with Kverneland in its first acquisition since the truck and tractor maker was spun off from Fiat SpA in January.

Kubota increased the offer to 10.5 kroner a share and secured an irrevocable agreement for the 31.8 percent stake held by Umoe AS, the Kverneland, Norway-based company’s largest shareholder, Kverneland said in a statement yesterday.

The Japanese manufacturer bid 8.5 kroner a share on Dec. 16, to which Fiat Industrial SpA-controlled CNH Global NV responded with a 9.5-krone offer on Dec. 19.

Kverneland Chairman Jens Ulltveit-Moe, who with family members owns Umoe AS, also said he will sell 100,000 shares owned by Kagra Gruppen AS through the offer, the company said.

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