UK engineering company GKN is under threat from a hostile takeover from investment house Melrose Industries.
Melrose has made an unsolicited offer to shareholders to acquire the entire issued share capital of GKN for 1.49 new Melrose shares and 81 pence in cash per share.
Melrose is known for turning engineering companies around and under the strapline ‘buy, sell, improve, sell’ it attempts to add value to the brands it acquires before selling them on, in a similar vein to a private equity. It’s website states it “finances acquisitions using a low level of leverage, improves the businesses by a mixture of investment and changed management focus, sells them and returns the proceeds to shareholders”.
However, the management of GKN do not want to sell to Melrose. In a letter to shareholders GKN Chairman Mike Turner blasts the approach as ‘entirely opportunistic’ and ‘low price and high risk’ before barbing: “Your board believes that Melrose is more focused on financial engineering than real engineering”.
“GKN is six times the size of Melrose’s largest acquisition and your Board believes that Melrose’s management team lacks relevant experience at Board level in several critical areas” wrote Turner, adding that he doen’t believe that Melrose has the necessary relationships with VMs and aircraft makers to make a success of the business. “Cars and aircraft are researched, designed, produced and serviced over several decades – your Board believes that a short term, private equity-style strategy is not the right way to provide sustained shareholder value in our sectors” he said.
GKN said in an earlier letter to shareholders that it would sell non-core assets and return £2.5bn to shareholders in response to the offer.