Banknote printer De La Rue rejects bid, suitor walks away

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British banknote printer De La Rue on Monday rejected an improved takeover offer from French chip card maker Oberthur which then dropped its bid, saying shareholders could regret that outcome later.

De La Rue said earlier that Oberthur's higher offer still did not value the company properly and accordingly it could not be accepted.

The world's largest printer of banknotes said it had received an informal bid worth 935 pence per share, worth around 925 million pounds (1.08 billion euros, $1.48 billion) and up from the 905 pence put on the table last month that valued the group at around 900 million euros.

"The Board has carefully considered Oberthur's revised proposal and believes that it continues to significantly undervalue the company and its prospects," De La Rue chairman Nicholas Brookes said in a statement.

"The Board therefore unanimously rejected this latest approach."

Earlier this month, Britain's Takeover Panel ordered Oberthur to make an official offer for De La Rue by February 7 in a 'put up or shut up' ultimatum aimed a removing uncertainty from the market.

De La Rue, which employs 4,000 staff across 24 countries, has struggled to overcome the impact of banknote production irregularities that hit the company in 2010.

De La Rue, whose history dates back to 1813, produces currencies for more than 150 countries.

Oberthur said late Monday that in view of the rejection, it now had "no intention to make an offer for De La Rue Plc."

Oberthur said it had wanted to talk to the De La Rue board and their financial advisers about its increased offer and was disappointed that the group "has so swiftly rejected this fully financed" bid.

"Bearing in mind the significant difficulties being encountered by De La Rue and the structural changes occurring in the global banknote paper market, shareholders in De La Rue may now ask themselves how long it will be before the market price of De La Rue shares attains the level of the increased proposal."

Under current rules, Oberthur will not be allowed to make a fresh offer for De La Rue for six months unless the regulator clears an approach.

© 2011 AFP

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