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Saia-Burgess goes on the offensive

The Murten-based company is fighting against the Japanese hostile takeover

(Keystone)

Swiss electrical components firm Saia-Burgess has gone to the media in its fight against a hostile takeover bid by a Japanese firm.

On Friday a full-page advert appeared in the French-language business daily, l’Agefi, denouncing the attacks by the Japanese Sumida Corporation.

The move comes two days after Sumida’s chairman, Shigeyuki Yawata, went on a public relations offensive over the affair, saying while the offer still stood, he did not intend to split up the company.

The Japanese manufacturer of coils and electronic components formally announced a SFr950 ($731) per share bid for the company a week ago. This and all its previous offers have been rejected by Saia-Burgess.

"Not like that" screamed the advert’s title. Saia-Burgess went on to denounce the fact that "more and more" successful Swiss companies "were the prey of foreign speculators who are looking for easy money and not in long-term investments".

"Will it be that in the near future Swiss companies have to be directed from abroad?" said the Murten-based company.

No selling

It called on shareholders to not sell any of their shares to Sumida. The Japanese company, which already holds a 24.5 per cent stake in Saia, is aiming for a stake of at least 50.1 per cent.

In the advert, Saia-Burgess reiterated its rejection of the offer price and denounced Sumida’s intentions as "obscure, hardly credible and against all economic logic". It said that it could not see any "synergies" between the two companies.

It also pointed out that there were "evident" cultural differences between the two firms and criticised Yawata for making "soothing" comments while continuing his hostile takeover bid.

For his part Yawata said that some of his earlier comments about his company’s bid had been misinterpreted. He said Sumida was interested in Saia as a whole and did not intend to sell off individual divisions.

He also confirmed that Saia’s management would keep their jobs in the event of a takeover and denied that Sumida would force relocation to China.

Meanwhile, the Swiss Takeover Board said on Thursday Sumida could not launch its tender offer until Swiss regulators had made a final decision about the bid.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

The history of Saia-Burgess goes back to 1920 when it was established in Bern.
Last year, the company posted net profit of SFr26.3 million on sales of SFr568.4 million.
Saia-Burgess employed 3,630 people at the end of last year. About 600 staff are employed in Murten.
The company’s initial public offering (IPO) on the SWX Swiss Exchange was launched in 1998.

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