Fnac, Conforama exchange rapid fire in Darty bid battle
South African-owned Conforama and French retail giant Fnac on Thursday filed rapid-fire rival bids in their takeover battle for electronics and white goods company Darty.
Fnac opened a new round in the bidding war early Thursday with an offer valuing Darty at £779 million ($1.1 billion, 990 million euros).
Only hours later, Conforama lifted its own earlier bid to £806 million.
Within minutes, Fnac raised its bid again, to around £820 million.
This takes the number of fresh bids to two each for Conforama and Fnac in just 24 hours, after Conforama, owned by the South African Steinhoff group, increased an earlier offer by 10 percent on Wednesday.
Ahead of the latest two bids, Darty had said in a short statement that it would examine the new Fnac bid as well as the revised Conforma offer and "provide further advice to Darty shareholders in due course".
Early on in the months-long takeover battle, the Darty board backed Fnac, before switching its allegiance to Conforama.
With its latest move, Fnac has now taken the lead in the takeover contest in purely financial terms.
But Darty shareholders also have a strategic decision to make. A tie-up with Fnac would strengthen the company's electronics business, whereas an alliance with Conforoma would create "a leading French household goods retailer", according to Conforama.
Meanwhile the share price of Darty, which is listed in London, jumped 19.4 percent to £157.00 as the takeover battle unfolded.
The latest bid level values Darty at over £250 million more than Fnac's very first offer of £558 million.
Fnac shares, listed in Paris, eased 0.4 percent to 57.50 euros.
Fnac said Thursday that it has firm commitments from two investment funds to sell it 22 percent of Darty's shares.
Conforama already owns 19.5 percent in Darty which it bought from a group of investors.
© 2016 AFP