KKR’s £1bn bid for Perpetual is called off

City A.M. Reporter
AUSTRALIAN wealth manager Perpetual has called off talks with private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts over a $1.7bn (£1.09bn) takeover saying the approach undervalued the company, knocking its shares down by nearly 15 per cent.

KKR made an indicative bid of A$38 to A$40 per Perpetual share in October, eyeing a slice of the $1.2 trillion Australian wealth management sector. It was only willing to raise that slightly after looking at limited data.

The Australian wealth management industry is among the few growing parts of the country’s financial services sector, thanks to compulsory private pension schemes.

There have been several deals in the sector, including the $13bn takeover offer of AXA Asia Pacific by AMP.

Perpetual, which is currently searching for a new chief executive, said the the initial offer was too low and said it would now end all discussions with KKR after it failed to get an acceptable price.

A successful offer could have led to further consolidation in the world’s fourth-largest wealth management industry but investors said KKR will likely remain in the market for other Australian wealth management assets.

KKR’s offer valued Perpetual at about 22 times forward earnings compared to 18 times for AMP’s offer for the Australia and New Zealand assets of AXA Asia Pacific.

“The takeover premium is gone out of the share price and no other bidders are likely to come in,” said Simon Burge, fund manager at ATI Asset Management.

“Add to that uncertainty over the new chief executive. Only when a new head is appointed will we know the direction of the firm.”