Diaper Maker Ontex Rebuffs Takeover Proposal From PAI Partners

(Bloomberg) -- Ontex Group NV, a Belgian diaper-maker with a market value of 1.6 billion euros ($1.9 billion), rejected an unsolicited takeover offer from European private equity firm PAI Partners as too low.

The personal-care company on Friday confirmed receiving the proposal about a possible cash bid after Bloomberg News reported earlier that PAI had approached Ontex. The company’s largest shareholder, billionaire Albert Frere’s Groupe Bruxelles Lambert SA, may be in favor of a deal, people with knowledge of the situation had said.

The bid was unanimously rebuffed by the board as it "significantly undervalued" Ontex, the company said in its statement. Chief Executive Officer Charles Bouaziz, who is on PAI’s board, wasn’t involved in the discussions and has also temporarily recused himself from the buyout firm. Shares of Ontex had dropped 36 percent in the past year as it contends with increasing pricing pressure for diapers in Europe, its largest market, and competition from rivals including Procter & Gamble Co.

Encouraged by cheap debt, buyout firms are attempting an increasing number of take-private deals in Europe for companies that are trading at a discount to peers. Last month, CVC Capital Partners agreed to buy control of drugmaker Recordati SpA for about 3 billion euros from the Italian family that founded the company almost a century ago.

Shares of Ontex were suspended earlier on Friday, before the company issued its statement.

Bouaziz had previously worked for PAI, starting in 2010 as a member of the food and consumer goods sector team and later running its portfolio performance group. He joined Ontex in January 2013.

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