A bidding war has intensified over SIG Holding AG, a Swiss maker of carton packaging and PET blow molding machinery, with two contenders trading blows between Norway and New Zealand.
New Zealand billionaire Graeme Hart saw his mid-December bid of 370 Swiss francs ($300) per share trumped by SIG's initial bidder, a consortium that offered SFr400 ($325) a share, or SFr2.6 billion ($2.1 billion). The consortium comprises Lysaker, Norway-based Ferd Industrial Holding A/S and London-based private equity firm CVC Capital Partners.
Ferd, parent of Europe's third-ranked food and beverage carton business Elopak A/S, aims to merge that unit with SIG's second-ranked aseptic carton subsidiary, Combibloc. Both units are dwarfed by Tetra Pak International SA, which claims 50 percent of the European market.
Hart's investment company, Rank Group Holdings Ltd. of Auckland, New Zealand, in December agreed to buy the beverage packaging unit of New York-based International Paper Co. for $500 million.
In 2006, Hart also bought Auckland-based forest products group Carter Holt Harvey Ltd. for $2.28 billion. CHH is a leading paperboard and packaging producer in Australia and New Zealand and so, for Hart a SIG acquisition would complement his current interests.
Neuhausen, Switzerland-based SIG's directors are reviewing the offers, and said they plan to advise shareholders by Feb. 2.
Meantime, the European Commission is studying anti-trust implications to a proposed combination of Elopak and SIG Combibloc.