LONDON (CNNfn) - Britainís United Biscuits accepted a $1.88 billion takeover from Nabisco Holdings and buyout firm Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst Tuesday, although a rival consortium immediately indicated it would top the 245 pence-a-share offer.|
Nabisco's bid appeared to end two months of speculation over the fate of Europeís second-largest cookie and cracker maker. However, a group led by the private equity arms of Paribas and Deutsche Bank said Tuesday it will remain in the fray.
"We would be looking to create some daylight between our offer and the one on the table,Ē said a source at Finalrealm, the rival consortium. "It would not just be a penny or two (higher)." The offer may come later Tuesday, the source added.
UB shares jumped 9 percent to 255 pence, well above Nabisco's offer, in anticipation of a new bid.
Nabisco and Dallas-based Hicks, Muse are together offering 245 pence in cash for each United share, valuing the company at 1.161 billion pounds ($1.88 billion). The offer is well below the 260 to 270 pence a share expected by industry sources when bidding first began, after UB put itself up for auction in October. It represents a 30 percent premium to Unitedís share price on October 4, before takeover speculation started, though, and is 10 percent above its closing price in London Monday.
Hicks, Muse and Nabisco (NA) had decided to pool their efforts after previous separate attempts to raise an offer by both firms had fallen down.
Under their latest bid United Biscuits, best known for brands such as McVities and Penguin, would be renamed Burlington Biscuit Holdings, and would encompass the European and Middle East biscuit operations of Nabisco and Hicks, Muse.
Nabisco will hold a 23 percent stake in the new company with the private equity specialist retaining the balance.
Finalrealm's plan for UB includes selling a chunk of the company's assets outside western Europe to French bakery giant Danone (PBN).
United recently sold its frozen food business to H.J. Heinz (HNZ) for $317 million. United (UBIS) shares rose 4.3 percent to 243 pence Tuesday.
-- from staff and wire reports