Haldex Fight Intensifies as Spurned Knorr-Bremse Lifts Stake

Updated on
  • Knorr-Bremse raises stake to 14.9% despite rejected offer
  • ZF still has higher holding with 21% stake in Haldex

Knorr-Bremse AG increased its stake in Haldex AB to 14.9 percent, refusing to back down even after its higher offer was spurned by the Swedish maker of truck brakes due to antitrust concerns.

Knorr-Bremse bought 3.56 percent of Haldex from Carnegie Fonder AB at its offer price of 125 kronor per share, the Munich-based maker of brake systems for trains and cars said in a statement on Friday. That brings its holding closer to the 21 percent acquired by rival suitor ZF Friedrichshafen AG, which is bidding just 120 kronor per share.

“We have clear indications that the recent statements by the management of Haldex with regard to our offer are not shared by a number of investors,” Knorr-Bremse Chief Executive Officer Klaus Deller said in the statement. “We continue to pursue the compelling combination of Knorr-Bremse and Haldex due to its strong strategic rationale.”

The battle over Haldex, valued at as much as 5.53 billion kronor ($647 million), is part of a broader push by partsmakers to combine as the auto industry shifts toward self-driving and electric-vehicle technologies. The transition requires higher development spending and highlights the need for savings. Companies such as ZF, a closely held maker of transmissions and other components, and Knorr-Bremse are also under pressure to expand as automakers increasingly seek suppliers with global reach.

On Monday, Haldex said it prefers ZF’s bid and argued that “there is a very real and material risk” that Knorr-Bremse’s offer will fail because the combined entity would have too much market share in the truck and trailer segments.

Haldex shares, which haven’t traded below 120 kronor since Knorr-Bremse made its higher bid on Sept. 16, were little changed at 127 kronor at 9:46 a.m. in Stockholm, indicating that investors expect the bidding war to continue.

(Updates with Knorr-Bremse quote in third paragraph, share price in final paragraph.)
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