Climbdown for Oberthur as it drops De La Rue bid

OBERTHUR last night walked away from its sweetened £926m indicative offer for De La Rue hours after the board of the UK banknote printer again rejected its bid yesterday.

Having increased its offer from 905p to 935p, the firm said: “Oberthur is disappointed that the board of De La Rue has so swiftly rejected this fully financed increased proposal, which [was] very full and fair.”

Nicholas Brookes, chairman of De La Rue, had said that the offer “continues to significantly undervalue the company”.

Oberthur rushed to come up with an offer after the Takeover Panel set a deadline of 7 February for its bid. Questions had been raised over the firm’s ability to fund the deal when it became clear that De La Rue was likely to hold out for £10 per share.

Oberthur had pursued De La Rue for two months.

Bain Capital was brought in to fund a deal at 935p, but Bain made it clear that it was not interested in funding a hostile bid if the De La Rue board turned down the revised offer.

Oberthur attempted to force the company’s board to the table by announcing in January that De La Rue had lost its biggest customer, the Reserve Bank of India.

Shares in the UK banknote printer slumped 15 per cent to 695p.

TIME LINE | OBERTHUR’S FAILED BID TO BUY DE LA RUE

20 July: De La Rue announces in its trading update that printing problems have caused a contract with its biggest client, the Reserve Bank of India, to be suspended. The firm’s chief executive James Hussey resigns over the suspended contract a month later.

6 December: In response to press speculation, De La Rue announces that Oberthur Technologies has made an indicative offer of 905p per share and says that it has rejected the amount as “preliminary” and “opportunistic”.

13 December: Tim Cobbold appointed De La Rue’s new chief executive.

4 January: On Cobbold’s first day as chief executive, Oberthur aggressively announces that De La Rue has conclusively lost the Reserve Bank of India as a client. De La Rue says that negotiations are still ongoing.

10 January: The Takeover Panel gives Oberthur a “put up or shut up” deadline of 7 February for a formal bid.

24 January: De La Rue announces that it has rejected a revised offer of 935p per share. Oberthur drops its bid.