Saia prepares to do battle with Sumida

The company produces electrical components mainly for the car industry. Saia-Burgess

Saia-Burgess, the electrical components firm subject to an unfriendly takeover bid from Japan, says it is looking at all defence options to remain independent.

This content was published on July 4, 2005 minutes

The company’s CEO, Daniel Hirschi, told a telephone conference on Monday that standing alone was the better alternative to being bought by the Sumida Corporation of Tokyo.

"We are talking with potential partners about playing a white knight role," Hirschi said and repeated the possibility of buying back shares.

A white knight is a person or company that rescues a targeted firm from a hostile takeover attempt.

Sumida last week confirmed it would offer SFr950 ($730) per share for the company, valuing it at SFr583 million.

Saia’s board of directors rejected the bid on Friday saying it did not reflect the value of the company.

Nothing in common

A statement from the company’s headquarters in Murten, canton Fribourg, said that said there was no identifiable, long-term synergy potential between the two groups as they had nothing in common in terms of the markets they served or the products offered.

A takeover would also put in question the "rigorous" implementation of the clearly defined Saia strategy that had been successfully pursued in the past, it commented.

Hirschi said on Monday that the supplier to the car industry was aiming to achieve sales of SFr1 billion by 2010 and a margin of ten per cent in earnings before interest, tax and amortisation (Ebita).

Half of the planned annual growth would come from acquisitions, he added.

The company had a successful and low-cost production strategy in place and there were projects for further sites in China and Poland.

Sustainable growth

Saia-Burgess wanted to continue with sustainable growth and attractive profitability and superior shareholder value, Hirschi said.

It is unclear whether the SFr950 share price bid is the final offer.

But Sumida’s chairman Shigeyuki Yawata told the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper that he hoped not to go much higher.

"I cannot say that we have presented our final suggestion," he said.

Yawata told another Swiss newspaper that he was aiming to secure a majority stake in Saia but would be satisfied with obtaining between a third and 40 per cent of the firm’s shares.

Sumida, which already has a 20 per cent stake in Saia, is due to make its formal offer to Saia shareholders from July 22.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

The history of Saia-Burgess goes back to 1920 when it was established in Bern.
Last year, the company posted net profit of SFr26.3 million on sales of SFr568.4 million.
Saia-Burgess employed 3,630 people at the end of last year. About 600 staff are employed in Murten.
The company’s initial public offering (IPO) on the SWX Swiss Exchange was launched in 1998.

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