A New Zealand billionaire is poised to buy SIG Holding AG, a Swiss maker of PET blow molding machinery and carton packaging.
Rank Group Holdings Ltd., owned by Graeme Hart, has purchased 22.1 percent of SIG - making Rank the largest shareholder - and has bid 435 Swiss francs ($353) per share for the rest of the company. The offer values SIG at $2.24 billion.
Hart had been in a six-month bidding war for SIG, competing with a consortium of Lysaker, Norway-based Ferd Industrial Holding A/S and private equity firm CVC Capital Partners. But the Ferd/CVC group has dropped out of the running, and announced it is selling its shares in SIG.
Hart's purchase also was approved by European Union antitrust authorities March 15.
His bid for SIG is the latest in a run of acquisitions by Rank. In December, it agreed to buy the beverage packaging unit of New York-based International Paper Co. for $500 million, including drink carton plants in five U.S. states and two Canadian provinces.
Auckland, New Zealand-based Rank, in an earlier deal with International Paper, last year acquired 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.
SIG's board of directors has not commented on the latest bidding, but did indicate in February that an earlier offer of 400 SFr ($325) per share was ``at a realistic level'' for shareholders wishing to sell their SIG holdings.
Directors of Neuhausen, Switzerland-based SIG said they will respond formally to Rank's latest offer by March 22.
Rank's offer expires March 29, and the settlement date is set for April 30.
For Hart, the acquisition of SIG complements his current interests. Analysts have suggested that, in a merger, SIG's plastics and carton packaging businesses and Rank's packaging interest would be highly compatible. Hart has not broken up other acquired businesses, but has consolidated some redundant operations, analysts said.