Sika Offers to Buy Burkard Family Shares, SonntagsZeitung Says

Swiss chemical maker Sika AG offered to buy the shares held by the founding Burkard family to prevent a sale of the stake to Cie. de Saint-Gobain SA, SonntagsZeitung reported, citing a person familiar with the matter.

The Burkards last year agreed to sell its 16 percent stake, which carries 52 percent of the voting rights, to the French rival. Sika’s management opposes the transaction, saying that it’s unacceptable that the family gets an 80 percent premium for their stake while other investors receive nothing.

SonntagsZeitung said Sika’s management would introduce a single share class and sell stock on the market or in blocks to investors if the Burkards decided to sell its stake to the company, SonntagsZeitung said. Representatives for Sika and the Burkard family’s Schenker-Winkler investment vehicle couldn’t immediately be reached for comment by Bloomberg News.

Sika and shareholders including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust and Threadneedle Investments say the 2.75 billion-franc ($2.8 billion) transaction also defies commercial sense and gives the French rival access to its product range, client lists and know-how.

Sika offered to pay 500 million francs less than Saint-Gobain but argues the Burkard family would benefit from a rising shares price if the sale to Saint-Gobain is called off, SonntagsZeitung said. Unidentified Swiss companies are prepared to facilitate and support a sale of the Burkard family stake to Sika, the newspaper said.

The raging takeover battle drew a record number of investors excluded from the Saint-Gobain offer to a shareholder meeting on April 14 and the confrontational seven-hour debate raised the prospect of a protracted legal battle to push through the deal. Sika chairman Paul Haelg said at the shareholder meeting that the company is working on alternative proposals to the Burkard family.