Kansai Paint has offered to buy all the shares it does not already own in Freeworld Coatings in a $262 million deal to give it a big presence in South Africa and a gateway to the continent. Osaka, Japan-based Kansai said it would offer 12 rand per share for the 72.4 percent stake in Freeworld it does not already own. Back in October Kansai had become the top shareholder in Freeworld and was in talks to raise that to at least a majority stake. Kansai said in a statement that several attempts to communicate with Freeworld's board had been unsuccessful.
"As a consequence of the reluctance of the Freeworld board to engage, Kansai believes that Freeworld's shareholders be given the opportunity to consider the offer, and has therefore decided to proceed with the offer without the cooperation of the Freeworld board," Kansai said in a statement.
The Japanese company, one of the world's ten largest paint firms, said it had secured agreements to accept or recommend the offer from fund managers representing 58.4 percent of the target shares. South Africa's Public Investment Corporation, which owns 6.43 percent of Freeworld shares, gave an irrevocable agreement to recommend the offer to its clients, Kansai said.
Contrary to the Kansai announcement Freeworld said in a statement that its board has always been ready to meet with Kansai and discuss issues relating to their interest in Freeworld and is evident from the meetings already held. It is also indicated in all correspondence with Kansai and reiterated in Freeworld’s most recent public comment on this approach.
Freeworld has said ownership by Kansai would raise competition-related concerns and discussions between the legal teams of these two companies have so far failed to resolve these differences. Freeworld said it is the view of its board that the only way to resolve these differences is through an approach to the Competition Commission. Freeworld’s board initiated such an approach, which was opposed by Kansai. Now that Kansai has made a firm offer possible competition related issues will be considered by the commission.