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Renova adds Oerlikon to its Swiss conquests

14 мая 2008

Renova, the holding company for Viktor Vekselberg, on Tuesday gained boardroom control of the Oerlikon high technology group, underlining the Russian oligarch’s increasing presence in Swiss industry.

The change of power, at Oerlikon’s shareholders’ meeting, came amid speculation that Mr Vekselberg, who has invested heavily in Switzerland, intends to forge a Swiss high-tech conglomerate by combining various leading, but relatively small and specialised, engineering companies.

Renova gave no hints about its plans, or on whether it might seek closer co-operation now between Oerlikon and Sulzer, another leading Swiss industrial group, in which it became a dominant shareholder last year.

Vladimir Kuznetsov, Renova’s chief investment officer, who was elected Oerlikon chairman, told shareholders that the Russian group expected to provide stability after a turbulent period and would support the ambitious growth plans of Oerlikon’s management.

Mr Kuznetsov highlighted the potential for Oerlikon in thin film, vacuum and solar technologies but gave no indication about Renova’s broader strategy.

Renova’s assumption of power came after a weekend deal with Victory, the Austrian investment group controlled by Ronny Pecik and Georg Stumpf. Victory agreed to sell Renova a 6.5 per cent stake of Oerlikon and dropped objections to the exercise by Renova of a call option acquired last month over 7.6 per cent of the shares.

Together, the two moves raised Renova’s stake to more than 39 per cent.

The two transactions secured Renova’s control while reducing Victory’s share to 13.5 per cent, excluding options. The moves were accompanied by Mr Stumpf’s decision on Tuesday to step down as chairman and leave the Oerlikon board.

The price paid by Renova for its latest shares was not disclosed but followed the SFr364 ($346) a share paid for the call option. Analysts said it was unlikely Victory would have ceded control without a premium.

The actual price is largely irrelevant for Oerlikon’s minority shareholders, owing to an unusual clause in the company’s statutes that eliminates the requirement for a dominant shareholder to mount a full bid. Oerlikon shares were down 1.1 per cent on Tuesday at SFr385.75.

The latest twist at Oerlikon follows the release this month of disappointing first-quarter figures, as the group, which also includes the former Saurer textiles business, suffered from a sharp, unexpected fall in the market for textiles machinery.

Oerlikon’s ungainly structure, the product of an earlier Victory-brokered takeover, has prompted speculation that Mr Vekselberg might spin off or divest the former Saurer business.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Mr Kuznetsov told Oerlikon shareholders Renova hoped to introduce greater transparency and accountability.

Источник: Financial Times

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