Schmolz & Bickenbach Jumps on Handelsblatt Report of Sale

Schmolz & Bickenbach AG rose the most in more than two years after Handelsblatt reported the Swiss maker of high-grade steel products may be sold in a transaction valued at as much as 500 million euros ($658 million).

Schmolz & Bickenbach advanced as much as 29 percent to 3.70 Swiss francs, the biggest intraday gain since Nov. 3, 2010, and was up 9 percent at 2:31 p.m. in Zurich on the first trading day of the year. That gave the Emmenbruecke, Switzerland-based company a market value of 370 million francs ($401 million).

A takeover could take place in two stages, with the acquisition of 258 million euros of high-interest bonds followed by a purchase of shares, Handelsblatt reported yesterday, citing unidentified people from the financial industry. Schmolz has attracted suitors including Apollo Global Management LLC and Triton Advisers Ltd., according to the German newspaper.

“The company needs to strengthen the balance sheet at some point this year,” whether through a capital increase or a debt-to-equity swap, Patrick Rafaisz, an analyst at Vontobel with a hold recommendation on the stock, said in a research report today. “Once more, minority shareholders are likely to suffer.”

Spokesmen for Apollo and public relations company CNC AG, which represents Triton, declined to comment. Schmolz couldn’t be reached for comment.

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