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BASF Nears Pronova Deal as Two Minority Owners Accept Bid

Jan. 17 (Bloomberg) -- BASF SE got closer to pushing through its $900 million takeover of Norwegian drug-ingredient maker Pronova BioPharma ASA as an improved offer won over two investors who had initially rejected the deal.

Odin Forvaltning AS, which owns 4.7 percent of Pronova, will tender its shares, even though the price isn’t as much as it had wanted, fund manager Alexandra Morris said today. Her comments echo those of Rolf Solgard, chief portfolio manager at Nykredit Asset Management, which owns about 1 percent. Pronova shares surged as much as 3.5 percent to 13.45 kroner in Oslo trading today, the highest price since BASF bid for the company.

The German company this week boosted its offer for Pronova by 8 percent to win support from investors holding out for more money. The increased offer, at 13.50 kroner per share, values Pronova at almost 5 billion kroner ($900 million), including debt. BASF is seeking 90 percent to gain full control in an offer that ends tomorrow.

“I don’t like the price but we are going to accept it,” Solgard said by phone today. “BASF already has 70 percent. It’s not worth the risk of holding onto the shares.”

Investors that held as much as 20 percent of Lysaker-based Pronova were disgruntled with the original offer of 12.50 kroner, Odin’s Morris said last week.

There is a risk that the main shareholder Herkules Private Equity, which holds about 50 percent of Pronova, is willing to sell in the open market should the deal with BASF not go through, Solgard said today.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sheenagh Matthews in Frankfurt at smatthews6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Simon Thiel at sthiel1@bloomberg.net

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