China’s HNA Group has launched a SFr1.4bn ($1.5bn) takeover bid for Switzerland’s Gategroup air-services company, the acquisitive conglomerate’s second big purchase in the country in less than a year.
Extending this year’s wave of overseas acquisitions by Chinese companies, HNA yesterday announced an all-cash offer for the Zurich-based catering and hospitality group that was previously part of the Swissair national airline.
However, the offer was rejected as insufficient by activist shareholders owning 11.3 per cent of Gategroup shares. Jonathan Herbert, chief investment officer at Cologny Advisors in London, which is acting with Switzerland-based RBR Capital Advisors, said extensive restructuring was needed at Gategroup to boost profit margins. He claimed the Chinese takeover was “a way to blunt our efforts,” and predicted rival bidders would emerge.
Chinese conglomerates spent $101bn on outbound mergers and acquisitions in the first quarter of the year — almost as much in the whole of 2015 — Thomson Reuters figures say. The overseas expansion has been driven by the limited options for domestic investment and a desire to gain global exposure.
Switzerland’s industrial and services companies have proved attractive targets for Chinese buyers, which have so far met little resistance from Swiss politicians. In February, state-owned chemical company ChemChina launched the country’s largest overseas takeover bid with a $44bn offer for Basel-based agribusiness Syngenta.
Adam Tan, HNA’s chief executive, told journalists his group had been made welcome in Switzerland and would like to make further acquisitions in the country. Last July, the conglomerate announced the $2.8bn acquisition of Swissport, the ground handling and cargo services group that was also formerly part of Swissair.
An acquisition of Gategroup would further expand HNA’s global portfolio, which ranges from logistics companies, tourism services, hotels and airport management to insurance and financial services. HNA already had finance in place for the bid, Mr Tan said.
HNA’s offer for Gategroup came just two months after it agreed to buy California-based Ingram Micro for $6bn, the largest Chinese takeover of a US information technology company. It also recently made an ultimately unsuccessful ￡2bn bid for London City Airport.
Gategroup’s directors have unanimously recommended HNA’s offer for all publicly held shares in the group. Xavier Rossinyol, Gategroup’s chief executive, said HNA’s strength in transport businesses and especially in Asia would allow Gategroup to accelerate its expansion in emerging markets.
HNA is offering SFr53 a share — a 21 per cent premium on Friday’s closing price — in a deal that would give the company a fully diluted equity value of SFr1.4bn. Mr Rossinyol said Gategroup would remain independently managed with its headquarters in Switzerland.
然而，持有Gategroup 11.3%股份的维权股东拒绝接受这一收购要约，称其不足以反映公司价值。伦敦Cologny Advisors的首席投资官乔纳森?赫伯特(Jonathan Herbert)表示，Gategroup有必要全面重组以提升利润率。Cologny Advisors正与总部位于瑞士的RBR Capital Advisors联合行动。赫伯特宣称，中方的收购是一种“钝化我们努力的方式”，他预计将会出现其他竞购者。
在发出对Gategroup收购要约的2个月前，海航同意以60亿美元收购总部位于加州的英迈(Ingram Micro)，创下中国企业收购美国信息科技公司的最高纪录。海航最近还斥资20亿英镑竞购伦敦城市机场(London City Airport)，但最终未获成功。