Sampo’s Wahlroos Rules Out Full Takeover of Rival Topdanmark

Sampo Oyj has no plans to take over all of Topdanmark A/S even after the Finnish investment company made a mandatory offer for the Danish property and casualty insurer, its chairman said.

“We have no specific plan in that direction,” Sampo Chairman Bjorn Wahlroos said in a Nov. 24 interview in Stockholm.

Topdanmark shares fell as much as 4.8 percent to 172.30 kroner in Copenhagen trading, the steepest intraday decline since June 24, and traded down 1.5 percent as of 1 p.m. local time.

Sampo had in recent years passively increased its stake in Topdanmark as the Danish company bought back and canceled its own stock. In September, Sampo made a non-premium offer for all of Topdanmark as it bought a 33 percent stake from its own subsidiary. Some shareholders accepted the bid, which has pushed Sampo’s stake to about 41 percent.

“In the early days we treated it as a financial investment,” Wahlroos said. “We will have to accept the fact that we’re treated as controlling Topdanmark.”

SEB AB said in a Nov. 4 note that it perceives Sampo as being “in a gradual takeover situation of Topdanmark,” which it expects “eventually will be successful.” The bank said that Sampo will see no benefit from supporting Topdanmark’s share price as it might re-launch a bid in the form of an accelerated book-building process in December or January.

Normalized 10-year development

“Rest assured that we’ll not start selling our stock in the market,” Wahlroos said. “And of course as long as they buy back stock our ownership stake will increase.”

Sampo, which is also the largest shareholder in Nordea Bank AB and owns the Nordic region’s largest non-life insurer If, has said it intends to propose to next year’s annual general meeting with shareholders that Topdanmark discontinue its policy of buying back shares and instead re-institute a dividend.

Asked if this will help Sampo increase its dividend, Wahlroos said “of course it contributes a little to that, but if you do the numbers you notice that it’s not particularly key.”

Asked whether Sampo would consider consolidating all its insurance operations into one company, Wahlroos said that “we are presently operating in a diverse legal structure.”

The current legal structure “we now have in If is unlikely in the very long run to be the optimal one,” he said. “But we have no plans or timetable according to which we would proceed with those matters.”

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