Sika’s Burkard Family Appeals to Takeover Panel to Push DealFrancois de Beaupuy and Jan-Henrik Foerster
The Burkard family, founders of adhesive maker Sika AG, called on Switzerland’s takeover panel to help push through its sale of a stake to Cie. de Saint-Gobain SA and overcome management resistance to the deal.
The panel will review if the family’s planned transfer of a 16.1 percent stake worth 2.75 billion francs ($3 billion), which carries majority voting rights, requires the French buyer to make a public offer for the rest of the company, according to a Sika statement.
The deal has descended into a legal battle that pits the family and the French glassmaker against Sika’s management and minority investors including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. While the Burkards look to monetize their Sika stake to accommodate an enlarged family, Chief Executive Officer Jan Jenisch and Chairman Paul Haelg are leading resistance to the deal amid concern that Saint-Gobain is effectively getting control using just a minority stake.
“The move must be seen as a precautionary measure,” Andreas Durisch, a spokesman for the family’s Schenker Winkler Holding AG investment vehicle, said by phone. Ethos, which is leading a group of Swiss funds against the deal, may file a similar request, he added.
A ruling risks taking years as the case winds its way through courts with the future of a company with more than 16,000 workers and industry-leading margins in the balance.
Saint-Gobain CEO Pierre-Andre de Chalendar today offered to meet Sika managers where he’d seek to allay their concerns that the transaction would hurt growth and profitability.
“Our two companies know each other well,” de Chalendar wrote in a letter to the managers, stressing the “shared values” and “complementarity” of the two groups. He said Saint-Gobain’s decision to comply with the contract signed with the Burkards was irrevocable.