Fnac Claims More Than Half Darty Shares as Battle Nears End

  • French suitor says it has control of 51.8% of Darty shares
  • Announcement brings to a climax auction with Steinhoff

Groupe Fnac SA said it now speaks for more than half the shares in bid target Darty Plc, giving it a potentially decisive edge in a battle with Steinhoff International Holdings NV for the French electronics retailer.

Fnac has bought 29.7 percent of Darty’s shares, which added to irrevocable undertakings to accept its 914 million-pound ($1.3 billion) offer mean it controls 51.8 percent of the stock, the French seller of consumer electronics, books, videos and music said Tuesday.

The announcement brings to a climax an auction that has seen both Fnac and Steinhoff increase their bids numerous times. Both suitors are seeking synergies in a market under pressure from online retailers. Buying Darty, which sells appliances and electronics, would triple Fnac’s number of stores to about 600.

Fnac raised its terms to 170 pence a share on Monday. That topped Steinhoff’s most recent offer of 160 pence. Steinhoff has advised shareholders to take no action.

Darty shares fell 1.8 percent to 168.75 pence in London Tuesday, below the offer price. Fnac gained 0.6 percent to 54.25 euros in Paris. Steinhoff rose 1.9 percent to 5.35 euros in Frankfurt.

Fewer Alternatives

Fnac’s latest bid includes a partial share alternative of 1 share for every 25 Darty shares. The French retailer may need the deal more than Steinhoff as it has fewer alternatives for consolidation.

By combining, the retailers would get cost savings and additional sales of at least 130 million euros ($147 million) annually, Fnac has said.

The auction began last year when Fnac made a proposal that Darty rejected as being too low. It came back with a bid of 101 pence a share, and got Darty’s board to agree at 116 pence. Steinhoff crashed the party in March with an offer at 125 pence a share.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.