Knorr-Bremse Bids for Sweden’s Haldex to Surpass ZF’s Offer

Updated on
  • Latest offer is 10 percent more than previous top takeover bid
  • Knorr-Bremse is third suitor for Swedish maker of truck brakes

Knorr-Bremse AG made a 4.86 billion-krona ($570 million) bid to buy Haldex AB, trumping an offer from ZF Friedrichshafen AG in a battle to take over the Swedish maker of truck brakes.

Knorr-Bremse is offering 110 kronor a share for Haldex, 10 percent more than ZF’s bid of 100 kronor a share. The acceptance period for the new offer is expected to begin around Sept. 27 and run until Dec. 5, the closely held Munich-based brakemaker said in a statement Monday.

The proposal marks the third bid for Stockholm-based Haldex in less than two months, with the competition reflecting automotive suppliers’ increasing efforts to combine to develop advanced self-driving and electric-vehicle technologies. German truck-parts producer SAF-Holland SA made an unsolicited 94.42-krona-a-share offer for Haldex in mid-July that was beaten by ZF’s bid in early August, and it withdrew from the contest after only receiving acceptances from owners with 0.45 percent of voting stock.

“We’ve had good talks with the chairman of the board of Haldex,” Knorr-Bremse Chief Executive Officer Klaus Deller said on a conference call with reporters. “We set ourselves a clear road map two years ago, how we want to be a participant in the transformation of the industry and be a much larger solution provider.”

Haldex shares, which already exceeded the ZF bid price Friday, rose as much as 11 percent Monday and traded at 114.25 kronor as of 12:51 p.m. Monday in Stockholm, topping the Knorr-Bremse offer. The stock has gained 44 percent this year, valuing the manufacturer at 5.06 billion kronor.

While ZF’s offer for Haldex is “fair and adequately reflects the long-term value of a combination,” the closely held maker of transmissions and other auto components “will continue to assess the situation,” the Friedrichshafen, Germany-based company said in an e-mailed statement.

‘Impressive Position’

“We would bring in our strong expertise in the truck market, global technological leadership and the long-term perspective of a family-owned business,” Knorr-Bremse CEO Deller said in the statement. “Haldex has an impressive position in the trailer market as well as a strong product portfolio and will play a key role in our company.”

Like ZF’s offer, which expires on Sept. 30, Knorr-Bremse’s bid is conditional upon receiving acceptance from 90 percent of Haldex shareholders.

Deller said he’s “very optimistic” of being able to resolve antitrust issues that could arise from combining two companies involved in making brakes systems for commercial vehicles. Knorr-Bremse would request regulatory permission wherever necessary in due course, he said, declining to say which jurisdictions would need to weigh in on the deal.

The board of Haldex, which had recommended the ZF offer, said it will evaluate Knorr-Bremse’s proposal. Knorr-Bremse said it has already acquired 8.4 percent of Haldex. ZF has said it had secured 5.7 percent of the Swedish company’s shares, after Haldex Chairman Goeran Carlson pledged to sell his holding.

(Updates with Knorr-Bremse CEO’s comments starting in fourth paragraph.)
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