Sunday 15 September 2019

Unilever opened hunting season on many Dutch firms

Photo: DutchNews.nl

Kraft Heinz’s abandoned attempt to acquire Anglo-Dutch foods to detergents group Unilever last week has opened the hunting season on Dutch bourse-listed companies writes the Financieele Dagblad on Thursday.

Interest rates are low, the economy is booming and is anything really ‘too big to buy?’ the paper asks.

‘Mergers come in waves, company directors are always looking at each other and if one moves, others follow suit. They are all afraid of missing the boat,’ says Utrecht university mergers expert Hans Schenk.

The FD compiled a list of Dutch bourse-listed companies and ranked them according to how vulnerable they are to a takeover. Chemicals concerns Akzo Nobel and DSM are rated as highly vulnerable since both are underperforming conglomerates, the paper says.

Insurer Aegon is also a sector underperformer with two geographical legs, the US and the Netherlands.  And while temps group Randstad is an underperformer, its shares are closely held by founder Frits Goldschmeding. The paper said Philips saved itself from potential takeovers by hiving off most of its lighting division last year.

One thing is certain the FD concludes, ‘After the Unilever debacle, the Dutch food sector is wide open for potential M&A moves.’

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