The board of Rexam – supplier of quality can to the like of Red Bull and Carlsberg – has recommended a takeover by US rival Ball Corp.
The offer comprises 407p in cash and 0.04568 of a new share in Ball, representing in aggregate 628p per Rexam ordinary share. It's thought to value Rexam at about £4.3bn.
Rexam shares have risen about 22 per cent since Rexam admitted it was in advanced talks with Ball. This morning they opened five per cent higher, at 564p.
There is still one fly in the fizzy drink, though: analysts have warned that even if shareholders approve a deal, the pair might find it hard to get one past antitrust authorities in the US.
A combined company would control about 61 per cent of the drinks can market in the US, 69 per cent in Europe, meaning there's a good chance the company would have to sell some of its assets.
This morning's recommendation came as it reported sales up three per cent in 2014, to £3.8bn. Underlying profit before tax also rose three per cent, to £360m, while beverage can volumes rose four per cent and return on capital employed rose 14.9 per cent, down from 15.5 per cent last year.
Graham Chipchase, Rexam's chief executive, said that though it had been a difficult year, "we delivered a good performance".
Significant steps have been taken to strengthen our strategic position to better serve our customers and we are now a 100% focused beverage can maker. The acquisition of a majority stake in UAC and our investment in Panama position us well in higher growth geographies.We expect 2015 to present a tough trading environment with headwinds from metal premium, foreign exchange volatility and pricing pressure. However, we are taking steps to address these through further improvements in productivity to make sure we are delivering cost leadership and continuing to invest in growth capacity to enhance our strong market positions.