Altrad Talks on $1.8 Billion Bilfinger Deal Fall Apart

Altrad SA’s talks over a potential takeover of German industrial services provider Bilfinger SE have fallen apart following disagreements over price, ending months of uncertainty around a deal, people familiar with the matter said.

The French suitor indicated it would be willing to pay about 34 euros per share, valuing Bilfinger at around 1.5 billion euros ($1.8 billion), according to the people. Bilfinger deemed the proposal too low and refused to grant due diligence to Altrad, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.

Altrad wasn’t willing to improve its offer without receiving access to more detailed information on the business, and talks between the two companies ended last week, the people said.

Bilfinger shares erased earlier gains and fell as much as 11% after the report. The stock was down 9.5% at 5:24 p.m. in Frankfurt, giving the company a market value of 1.2 billion euros.

An offer of 34 euros per share would represent a 78% premium to Bilfinger’s closing price of 19.08 euros on Oct. 20 last year, before Bloomberg News first reported the company was attracting takeover interest.

Private equity interest in the business has also cooled, and Bilfinger isn’t currently in any active discussions with buyout firms, the people said. The company has long been considered a takeover candidate, and it could still get fresh approaches.

Representatives for Altrad and Bilfinger declined to comment.

Bilfinger, once one of Germany’s biggest builders, reinvented itself as a focused industrial-services company. The company has about 30,000 employees and operates in sectors including chemicals, energy, pharmaceuticals and cement, according to its website.

Over the past few years, it’s been trying to cut costs, boost margins and refocus on key markets. The company has proven a difficult investment for Swedish activist Cevian Capital AB, which remains Bilfinger’s biggest shareholder.

Bilfinger shares had gained 82% in the past 12 months through Tuesday amid takeover speculation and an improved business outlook.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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