Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Will the offer keep on going up?

The Al-Futtaim Group raised its offer for Robinson by 12 percent as it seeks to expand its Middle East franchise of Marks & Spencer stores to Singapore.

ALF Global Private, a unit of Al-Futtaim, raised its bid to S$7 a share from the January offer of S$6.25, it said in a statement to the Singapore exchange. The price, which values Robinson at S$601.6 million ($434 million), is 3.1 percent higher than the last traded price of S$6.79 before the midday break.

Al-Futtaim, which operates nine Marks & Spencer stores in the Middle East, hopes to gain control of Robinson's seven clothing stores operating under the brand in Singapore as well as its department-store chains.

“This revision represents a full price for the business and a compelling opportunity for shareholders to realize value,” James Gillespie McCallum, director of ALF Global, said in the statement.

Al-Futtaim said it has secured acceptances for 26.7 percent of Robinson's stock, compared with 23.2 percent when it first made the offer. The bid is conditional upon ALF receiving acceptances for 50 percent of the stock, it said in January. The buyer also reiterated the April 3 deadline for the bid to close.

Indonesia's Lippo Group owns 29.9 percent of Robinson after paying S$203 million for the stake from Oversea-Chinese Banking and Great Eastern Holdings in 2006. Oversea-Chinese still owns 6.05 percent, according to Robinson's annual report

Standard Chartered Plc is advising ALF Global in its bid for Singapore's oldest retailer.

Eventually, will Al-Futtaim secure the required number of acceptances?