South African retailer conglomerate Steinhoff raised its bid for Darty to $1.2 billion, trumping a sweetened offer from French rival Fnac in the battle for Europe’s third-largest electrical goods firm.
Steinhoff’s new offer is the latest twist in a wrestling match with Fnac after initially showing up in March with a 673 million pounds ($970 million, 855 million euros) offer that broke off a $558 million tie-up between the two French companies.
Under the latest offer, the second in as many days, Steinhoff offered 150 pence per share in cash, valuing Darty at 806 million pounds ($1.2 billion) and above 145 pence in choice of cash and shares from Fnac.
On Wednesday, Steinhoff, through its Conforama unit, said it would extend a 138 pence share price it used to buy 19.5 percent of Darty to the remaining shareholders.
Shares in Darty surged to their highest level in almost five years, rising 16.3 percent to 153 pence, slightly above the latest price tag.
Darty said its board would “carefully consider these two announcements and will provide further advice to Darty shareholders in due course”.
Fnac could not be immediately reached for comment.
Darty attracts the bidders for different reasons. Fnac has a large chunk of its sales in areas such as books and CDs and needs to diversify.
For Steinhoff, the deal would help it bulk up in Europe, where it already makes more than two-thirds of its 9.8 billion euros of annual sales.
Darty earns 70 percent of its revenue in France but has 400 stores across Europe and competes with Media-Saturn, owned by Germany’s Metro, and with Britain’s Dixons. Conforama, like Darty and Fnac, has a strong presence in French high streets and retail parks.
Fnac’s competing offer also comes a week after Vivendi, led by French billionaire Vincent Bollore, spent 159 million euros to buy 15 percent of Fnac, giving the French retailer financial muscle to expand and possibly take on Steinhoff.
Fnac said Darty shareholders could also choose to receive four new Fnac shares for 125 Darty shares held and that it expected benefits of at least 130 million euros from the deal.
Fnac had originally proposed a takeover offer for Darty last year but in March Conforama topped the French company’s bid.
($1 = 0.6947 pounds)
(1 euro = 0.7874 pounds)
By Dominique Vidalon and Tiisetso Motsoeneng