Swiss confectionery group Barry Callebaut has confirmed that it is to make an offer of €295 per share for the outstanding 3.9 per cent stake in German counterpart Stollwerck, as required by German stock market regulations.
The offer will be made via Van Houten, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Barry Callebaut, and the price is calculated on the basis of the average Stollwerck share price over a three month period to 6 August when the original offer was made.
The Swiss group said that the offer would enable it to squeeze out the Stollwerck shareholders who were not in agreement with the takeover by offering them a simple cash payment for their shares. However, it stressed that it would welcome any of Stollwerck's minority shareholders who wanted to continue to invest in the confectionery industry by swapping their shares for those in Barry Callebaut itself.
This, it said, would allow then to swap their investment from a German chocolate supplier to a European chocolate supplier with greater scope and, presumably, better growth prospects. Stollwerck will be delisted from the German stock market once the deal is complete.
Barry Callebaut had annual sales of SF2.5 billion in 2000/01, making it the world's leading manufacturer of high-quality cocoa and chocolate products. The company processes 14 per cent of the global cocoa harvest, operates 24 production facilities in 16 countries and employs about 5,000 people.
For its part, Stollwerck generated sales of around €750 million in fiscal 2001, but generated three-fifths of this from Germany itself, making it nonetheless the biggest player in Europe's largest confectionery market. The remaining 40 per cent of Stollwerck's sales were generated in Eastern Europe and other export markets, although the Eastern European activities have since been sold.
Barry Callebaut has acquired Stollwerck's business in Germany, Belgium and Switzerland, which generated sales of around €530 million in 2001, in August this year from Imhoff Industrie Holding and the Imhoff foundation at a cost of €175 million.