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Altadis Gets euro12.8 billion Offer From CVC, PAI Partners

Altadis Gets euro12.8 billion Offer From CVC, PAI Partners

Tobacco maker Altadis SA said Friday it had received a preliminary offer from private equity firms CVC Capital Partners and PAI Partners, valuing it at euro12.8 billion (US$17.42 billion) and setting the stage for a bidding war with Imperial Tobacco Group PLC.
The manufacturer of Gauloises, Gitanes and Ducados cigarette brands said the euro50 (US$68.07)-a-share offer will be analyzed by its board of directors in coming days.
The offer is above the already sweetened bid of euro12.03 billion (US$16.38 billion) submitted last month by Britain-based Imperial. The Altadis board rejected that offer and a previous one, saying they undervalued the company.
Altadis said in a filing with regulators that the preliminary offer from the private equity firms is conditional on getting acceptances from 75 percent of Altadis' capital. The bid is also conditional on getting a positive recommendation from Altadis' board, due diligence and the removal of voting rights limits set at 10 percent.
Imperial first approached the Spanish-French tobacco company on March 15 with a non-binding bid of euro45 (US$61.16) per share, which was turned down. The British company was again rebuffed when it returned with a higher bid of euro47 (US$63.88) on April 10.
Imperial officials declined to comment Friday on the rival bid.
Altadis shares traded at euro48.52 (US$66.05) before being suspended by Spanish stock market regulators ahead of the CVC-PAI announcement. They resumed at euro50.40 (US$68.61), up 3.9 percent. The stock has gained 26 percent since Imperial's first formal approach.