Gardner Denver Falls on Reuters Reports Deal Talks Fail

Gardner Denver Inc. tumbled the most in four years after Reuters reported that the producer of industrial air compressors had ended talks with SPX Corp. for a deal valued at more than $4 billion.

Gardner Denver slumped 9.2 percent to $68.57 at 2:42 p.m. after dropping 15 percent for the biggest intraday decline since Dec. 19, 2008. The Wayne, Pennsylvania-based company had gained 3.2 percent Dec. 19 after Reuters reported SPX, a producer of industrial equipment for a variety of industries, was close to announcing a deal.

Talks between Charlotte, North Carolina-based SPX and Gardner Denver ended as both companies expressed doubt about the transaction’s success, Reuters said, citing a source it didn’t identify. Gardner Denver management has asked to meet with private-equity firms in early January, the news service said.

Gardner Denver has been under pressure from activist investor ValueAct Capital Management LLC, which said in July that a sale of the company would reap the most value for investors following the departure of its former chief executive officer, Barry Pennypacker. The San Francisco-based investment firm owned a 5.1 percent stake in Gardner Denver as of Sept. 30, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Gardner Denver’s board and management continue to work with the company’s adviser, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., to explore strategic alternatives, including a possible sale or merger, the company said in a statement.

Jennifer Epstein, a spokeswomen for SPX, didn’t immediately return telephone and e-mail messages.

(Corrects to remove erroneous name of spokesman and replace by a company statement in next to last paragraph.)

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