German construction giant Hochtief has upped the anti on Australian subsidiary Leighton Holdings, launching a bid to increase its stake in the Australian giant from 58.77 percent to 74.23 percent.
In a statement released to the Australian Stock Exchange on Monday, Hochtief said it had launched a conditional, proportional cash and dividends offer to acquire three out of every eight shares in Leighton it did not currently own for $22.15 per share.
In a statement, Hochtief said the offer would not affect existing shareholder entitlements to a partially franked $0.60 per share dividend payable on April 4 to shareholders on the register as at March 21 and represented a premium of 18.8 percent on the dividend adjusted five day volume weighted average price of Leighton shares as well as a 33 percent premium on the three month weighted average Leighton share price.
Hochtief also said it would seek to increase its board representation if the offer is successful in order to reflect its higher level of shareholding in the company, and that regardless of the outcome, it would continue to work with Leighton on a review of the structure and operating model of Leighton’s current operations.
The latest developments come after disagreement over alleged interference on the part of Hochtief with regard to the make-up of Leighton’s board sparked a walkout of the latter company’s independent directors last year.
Whilst Hochtief has long held a controlling stake in Leighton, an informal agreement between the two companies has seen the latter operate with significant levels of autonomy from the former.
Shareholders in Leighton are expected to receive a bidder’s statement with regard to the offer by the end of March.
In a statement, Leighton said its independent directors would consider the offer once it is received and that shareholders did not need to take any action at this stage.