K+S Private Shareholders Oppose Potash Bid

11.08.2015 -

German potash and salt producer K+S said its private shareholders have overwhelmingly voiced their support for management’s rejection of the €7.9 billion takeover offer by Canadian rival PotashCorp.

The company said a market research organization’s survey of all non-institutional shareholders carried out for K+S in mid-July – in which 28% of the 140,000 participated – found that 92% of those deemed to be well informed rejected the €41-per-share bid. Some 90% of the same group were of the opinion that K+S should remain independent.

The respondents represented 8.4% of the total outstanding shares at the time of the survey.

Altogether 84% of the private investors were seen to support the K+S boards’ rejection of the offer. The company said only about 4% acknowledged they would accept it at the proposed price, while an additional 43% would wait to learn management’s position and 28% would accept a significantly higher offer.

“Our private shareholders have made their position clear. They share the assessment that the current PotashCorp proposal fails to reflect the fundamental value of K+S, said CEO Norbert Steiner.

“At the same time, Steiner remarked, “our private shareholders have given us a clear mandate to keep on realizing what they consider to be attractive future prospects for K+S.”

“The prevailing view among the private shareholders is in line with that taken by the overwhelming majority of institutional investors that we are in touch with and who also welcome the rejection of the PotashCorp proposal,” CFO Burkhard Lohr added.

Given the number of shareholders who did not return the questionnaire, analysts have declined to speculate on the actual level of support. They agree, however, that private shareholders are key to management’s hold-out against the Potash onslaught, as the majority of K+S shares are freely traded on the stock exchange.