Saurer board succumbs to Oerlikon's charms

Saurer makes everything from sewing machines to transmission systems for Ferrari Keystone

Swiss industrial group Saurer has recommended that shareholders accept a takeover bid from technology firm Oerlikon after it raised its bid to SFr135 ($106) a share.

This content was published on October 17, 2006 - 08:01

Tuesday's bid values Saurer at SFr1.96 billion and represents an increase of 45 per cent on the initial offer of SFr93.42 a share, made on September 6.

"After reviewing this offer with Saurer's senior management and its financial adviser Deutsche Bank, the board of directors comes to the conclusion that the offer should be regarded as attractive," Saurer said in a statement.

Earlier in October Oerlikon, formerly known as Unaxis, tightened its grip on Saurer – which among other things makes the gear systems for Lamborghini, Aston Martin and Ferrari cars – by raising its stake to 44.68 per cent and by increasing its bid to SFr116.50 a share.

Oerlikon said the latest increase would be the last.

"This represents the best possible offer to the shareholders of Saurer," Thomas Limberger, CEO of Oerlikon, said.

Oerlikon, which creates the coatings for the high-performance engines used in Formula One racing, bought a 24.1 per cent stake in Saurer from British hedge fund Laxey Partners for SFr120 a share in September.


Unaxis was formed in 2000 following the break-up of Switzerland's Oerlikon-Bührle industrial and defence group.

In May 2005 the founding Anda-Bührle family sold its remaining stake in Unaxis to Austrian investment group Victory, bringing to an end an acrimonious takeover battle.

Although Oerlikon remains one of Switzerland's technological heavyweights, the company has suffered in recent years from a combination of alleged management problems, difficult market conditions and what many analysts see as the lack of a clear strategy.

Initial trading on Tuesday had Saurer's share price up 3.5 per cent at SFr133.50 and Oerlikon up 1.6 per cent at SFr452.25.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

In Switzerland, about 250,000 people are employed directly or indirectly by the car industry.

The profit generated by the Swiss car and vehicle industry as a whole is around SFr70 billion.

The country has no car manufacturers of its own. The last Opel was produced in Biel in 1975.

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