BFI Raises Bid In Trash Hauler Takeover Fight
LONDON (AP) _ Waste management giant Browning-Ferris Industries Inc. raised its offer for British trash company Attwoods PLC by 10 percent today and told shareholders to take it or leave it.
The latest move in the trash takeover battle values Attwoods at 390.7 million pounds, or $625.1 million.
Attwoods chief executive Ken Foreman reiterated his accusation that BFI is plotting ″to get Attwoods on the cheap″ and said shareholders will get a better deal if he sells off Attwoods in pieces.
Houston-based BFI said that strategy ″offers shareholders no certainty of value and no guarantee of results.″
BFI chairman William D. Ruckelshaus, former head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said ″Attwoods shareholders should now accept our increased cash offers, not gamble on another set of Attwoods’ promises.″
BFI offered in September to buy Attwoods for 109 pence, or $1.74, per share, in a deal that valued the British company at 364.2 million pounds, or $582.7 million.
At the time BFI criticized Attwoods’ economic performance and accused Attwoods directors of repeatedly placating shareholders with promises that never materialized.
Today, BFI raised its offer to 116.75 pence, or $1.87, per share and said it would also pay shareholders a dividend of 3.25 pence, or 5.2 cents, a share that has been proposed by Attwoods directors.
BFI called this bid its final offer and said it would lapse on Dec. 2 if it has not gotten acceptances from enough shareholders to give it more than 50 percent of the company’s voting rights. The earlier offer had been set to expire Friday.
From the outset, BFI’s ally in the deal has been Attwoods’ largest shareholder, Laidlaw Inc., a Canadian waste company that has agreed to sell its 30 percent stake in Attwoods.
Attwoods responded by raising questions about whether three of its directors who are officers of Laidlaw had passed along confidential information to BFI. BFI said it had formulated its bid using nothing but information available to the public, and Laidlaw said its executives had acted properly.
BFI says a merger with Attwoods would create stronger waste businesses in two key markets: the U.S. East Coast, where garbage collected by Attwoods trucks could be taken to BFI landfills and recycling plants; and in southern England, where Attwoods’ waste operations would complement BFI’s presence in the British Midlands.