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Sumida’s sights still set on Saia

Saia-Burgess employs around 600 staff in Murten

(Keystone)

The Japanese Sumida Corporation has reiterated its desire to take over Swiss electrical components firm Saia-Burgess, despite repeated rejections.

Sumida’s chairman Shigeyuki Yawata made fresh overtures on Wednesday, saying 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 on Friday.

Sumida, which already holds a 24.5 per cent stake in Saia, is aiming for a stake of at least 50.1 per cent.

Yawata 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 a relocation to China.

"Some of my earlier comments have been misinterpreted," he said.

Yawata said the financing of the takeover was guaranteed "100 per cent", with 70 per cent coming from Sumida’s cash flow.

Persistence

Saia-Burgess has repeatedly turned down bids from Sumida. At the end of June Sumida announced it would offer SFr950 per share for Saia, valuing the company at SFr583 million.

Saia’s board of directors promptly rejected the bid, saying it did not reflect the value of the company.

A statement from the company’s headquarters in Murten, canton Fribourg, said there was no identifiable, long-term synergy potential between the two groups as they had nothing in common in terms of the markets they served or the products offered.

A takeover would also call into question the "rigorous" implementation of the clearly defined Saia strategy that had been successfully pursued in the past, it commented.

Sumida on the other hand believes that the two companies complement each other well in terms of products and also in terms of geography.

Options

Responding to Friday’s formal tender offer, Saia said it intended to produce a report no later than August 11 on the situation and the company’s options.

The board of directors is looking into every possibility, including getting support from within Switzerland and a share buyback programme.

But Daniel Hirschi, CEO of Saia-Burgess, said a white-knight solution – as recently presented by Swiss surveying specialists Leica Geosystems – would probably not be the best option for Saia.

He said investors with longer-term interests, who could act as a counterbalance to Sumida’s bid, were at a premium in Switzerland.

Saia’s share price at close of trading on Wednesday stood at SFr970.

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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