Melrose braces for shareholder verdict on GKN bid

GKN - Metallurgy PIC: GKN plc

GKN - Metallurgy PIC: GKN plc - Credit: Archant

The fate of GKN will be decided this week when the result of a shareholder vote on Melrose’s £8.1 billion bid for the engineering giant is announced, ending a long-running saga that has gripped the City.

GKN Aerospace PIC; GKN plc

GKN Aerospace PIC; GKN plc - Credit: Archant

GKN investors have until 1pm on March 29 to cast their ballots on the controversial deal and the result will come following months of acrimony between the duo, with politicians also chiming in to blast the proposed tie up.

Over 50% of shareholders must vote in favour of the deal for it to gain approval after Melrose lowered the minimum threshold for acceptance of its bid from 90%.

But one of GKN’s largest investors - Colombia Threadneedle - has said it plans to reject Melrose’s takeover offer and has given its backing to the GKN board and its overhaul plans.

Colombia Threadneedle owns around 3.5% of GKN and is one of five shareholders to come out publicly against the Melrose bid.

Pelham Capital, Sanderson Asset Management, Jupiter Asset Management and Lancaster - whose combined holdings total around 5% of GKN - have also come out against the deal.

In addition Airbus, GKN’s largest customer, has warned it could not give any new business to GKN if the deal with the turnaround specialist went ahead.

GKN - Aerspace, Bristol PIC: GKN plc

GKN - Aerspace, Bristol PIC: GKN plc - Credit: Archant

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GKN has doggedly rejected Melrose’s advances, with chief executive Anne Stevens describing Melrose’s takeover as “high-risk” and the offer not coming close to reflecting true value.

Instead, GKN has announced a raft of counter-measures, including a deal to sell its automotive division Driveline to US firm Dana.

The most recent war of words has involved GKN’s pension scheme, with both parties claiming victory while Trustees have given their blessing to commitments from both firms.

Pressure has also been applied to the Government to intervene in the proposed takeover, with unions and MPs warning over asset stripping and flagging national security concerns.

In a plea to GKN shareholders, Melrose chairman Christopher Miller said in a letter on Friday: “We are now entering the final few days of the offer timeline.

“The facts speak for themselves: we have the best team to re-energise and repurpose GKN, change the culture and help your company live up to its full potential, creating real value for you.

GKN Driveline Pic: Sean Pollock/GKN plc

GKN Driveline Pic: Sean Pollock/GKN plc - Credit: Archant

“Only the Melrose team can transform GKN into the manufacturing powerhouse that it could and should be. We urge you to accept our offer.”

GKN became a target following profit warnings in October and November after problems at its US aerospace division sent shares tumbling.

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