Takeover Tussle for Brakemaker Haldex Escalates With New Bid

Updated on
  • ZF Friedrichshafen’s latest bid falls short of Knorr-Bremse’s
  • German suitors value Swedish Haldex at as much as $652 million

The battle for control of Haldex AB intensified as the two German suitors both raised their bids on the same day, with the earlier and higher offer valuing the Swedish maker of truck brakes at 5.53 billion kronor ($652 million).

ZF Friedrichshafen AG, which already holds more than 21 percent of Haldex, increased its all-cash takeover bid by 9 percent to 120 kronor per share, the Friedrichshafen-based company said in a statement on Friday afternoon. Earlier, its Munich-based rival Knorr-Bremse AG said it lifted its price 14 percent to 125 kronor per share and that it now owns more than 11 percent of its takeover target. Haldex shares traded 8 percent higher at 128 kronor at 4:01 p.m. in Stockholm.

With the auto industry shifting toward self-driving and electric-vehicle technologies, parts makers are increasingly seeking to combine to boost development efforts and cut costs. Automakers are also looking to partner with companies that can supply components globally, which requires greater scale from parts makers. The tussle over Haldex was kicked off with an unsolicited bid in July from truck-parts producer SAF-Holland SA, which has since withdrawn. Knorr-Bremse’s bid, the highest so far, is 32 percent higher than SAF-Holland’s initial proposal.

ZF, a closely-held maker of transmissions and other components, had backing from Haldex’s board after matching Knorr-Bremse’s offer earlier this week. It didn’t say in its latest statement whether that support remains intact.

Board Review

Knorr-Bremse’s new offer represents “a substantial increase” to its previous bid, Haldex board member and acting chairman Magnus Johansson said in a telephone interview after Knorr-Bremse raised its offer this morning. Haldex’s board will need to evaluate the proposal after not supporting the earlier offer in part because of expected lengthy antitrust reviews, he said.

“Haldex and Knorr-Bremse are businesses from the same breed, sharing a deep-rooted tradition in the commercial-vehicle industry with innovation at their heart,” Knorr-Bremse Chief Executive Officer Klaus Deller said in a statement. “We have changed this offer to give comfort to the shareholders for deal completion.”