Fnac hits Steinhoff hard in fight for Darty

Steinhoff International Holdings made an unsolicited bid for French electronics retailer Darty, seeking to break up Groupe Fnac's agreement to buy the company. (Balint Porneczi, Bloomberg)
Steinhoff International Holdings made an unsolicited bid for French electronics retailer Darty, seeking to break up Groupe Fnac's agreement to buy the company. (Balint Porneczi, Bloomberg)

London - Groupe Fnac raised its offer for French electronics retailer Darty to £900m ($1.3bn) in a final effort to stave off rival suitor Steinhoff International Holdings [JSE:SHF].

Fnac, which sells consumer electronics, books, videos and music, said investors would receive 170 pence a share in cash, raising its bid from 153 pence. The company has traded blows with Steinhoff, which last week upped its terms to 160 pence a share. Steinhoff said it’s considering its options after the new bid.


Darty shares rose as much as 6.1% to 173 pence in London. Fnac fell 1.5% to €53.76 in Paris, while Steinhoff gained 0.7% to €5.27 in Frankfurt.

Fnac’s latest bid includes a partial share alternative of 1 share for every 25 Darty shares.

For Steinhoff, acquiring Darty’s 400 outlets would continue a takeover spree that included the 2011 purchase of French furniture chain Conforama. Fnac may need the deal more as it has fewer alternatives for consolidation.

Fnac said it now speaks for Darty shares representing 38.7% of the total, either through shares it has purchased or indications of support for its offer. Steinhoff has said investment managers have sold it about 19.5% of Darty’s shares.

Both suitors have raised their bids numerous times for a business that leads the French market for items such as refrigerators and televisions, but is little known outside its home. The rapid-fire nature of the contest is unusual in the procedural world of takeovers and shows how both companies recognise the need to get bigger in a market under pressure from online retailers like  Amazon.com.

The auction began last year when Fnac made a proposal that Darty rejected as being too low. It came back with a bid of 101 pence a share, and got Darty’s board to agree at 116 pence. Steinhoff crashed the party in March with an offer at 125 pence a share.

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