WWD.com/business-news/mergers-acquisitions/maus-freres-ends-gant-offer-open-to-gaining-more-shares-470627
mergers-acquisitions
mergers-acquisitions

Maus Freres Ends Gant Offer, Open to Gaining More Shares

Swiss retailer Maus Frères SA said Monday it would not extend its takeover offer for Gant, one month after launching a hostile bid for the Swedish...

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PARIS — Swiss retailer Maus Frères SA said Monday it would not extend its takeover offer for Gant, one month after launching a hostile bid for the Swedish sportswear firm.

But Maus, which owns French sportswear company Lacoste, said it "reserved the right to acquire additional shares in the future," auguring for a continued power struggle at Gant, which operates 310 stores.

Maus said Monday it now held "well above 30 percent" of Gant, including the 29.9 percent of shares it acquired on the Stockholm Stock Exchange before its offer closed on Friday. The total number of Gant shares Maus owns will be revealed "as soon as the number of tendered shares has been calculated," the retailer said.

Maus on Dec. 11 offered 310 Swedish kronor a share, or $48.87 at current exchange — a premium of 31 percent — to buy all-out control of Gant, valuing Gant at 5.2 billion Swedish kronor, or $819.8 million.

Gant promptly recommended that its shareholders reject the bid, and more than 55 percent followed suit. But Maus continued to amass shares on the open market, slowly building its stake to nearly 30 percent by Friday.

Swedish entrepreneurs Lennart Björk, Klas Käll and Staffan Wittmark are Gant's three main shareholders, with about 37 percent of the company split among them. They bought the rights to sell and design Gant clothing in Europe in the Eighties before acquiring the global rights to the brand in 1999. They then started to grow the company from its traditional men's wear business into women's and children's wear. Gant was founded in the U.S. in 1949.

Maus said it saw potential to expand Gant by extending the brand's global reach, especially by building Gant's presence in the United States and Japan.

Shares in Gant finished trading Friday at 304 kronor, or $47.93. They were up more than 2 percent to 312 kronor, or $49.19, in mid-afternoon trading Monday.