This should be the time when forward-thinking bosses can launch a takeover without having to fight a counterbid from a private equity firm, and hopefully end up paying a sensible price. And yet the shareholders of corporate buyers are punishing acquisitive ambition. What looks like an open goal is actually a trap.
Take Brenntag SE. Shares of the German chemicals distributor have slid more than 10% since Bloomberg News revealed it was mulling the purchase of US peer Univar Solutions Inc. A deal would enhance Brenntag’s US position at a time when European customers are grappling with a fragile economy and insecure energy supplies. The cost savings, estimated by Barclays Plc analysts at 400 million euros ($412 million) annually, appear to justify paying a typical takeover premium on Univar’s undisturbed market value of $5.1 billion.