By Liz White, UT staffLondon-Texas Pacific Group has finally succeeded in its bid to buy UK-based polyurethane foam, plastics and fibres group British Vita plc. Following several weeks since mid-January during which Vita continued to rebuff the US-based private equity group’s approaches, a 22 March announcement said the Vita board had recommended that shareholders accept TPG’s fourth offer, which values the group at £668 million ($1268 million). Vita shareholders will get £3.60 cash for each share (ex the final 6.25 pence dividend for 2004, which will be paid as previously announced by British Vita). “British Vita is proud of its track record of delivering shareholder value, and the board is pleased that it has been able to continue this by agreeing a deal with TPG UK which it believes delivers fair value to shareholders today for the business and its prospects,” said David Cotterill, the Vita chairman, in a Regulatory News Service statement. “TPG UK will take control of a well-run, cash-generative business which is well placed to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the markets which it serves,” Cotterill added. TPG expressed its delight “that the directors of British Vita have unanimously recommended our offer. TPG is excited about backing British Vita, a company with such strong underlying businesses and market positions,” said Stephen Peel, partner of TPG in London, in the RNS statement. Added to the final dividend, shareholders gain a premium of 40 percent over the 262 pence which Vita’s shares were trading at 11 Jan, immediately before TPG’s first proposal. Discussing TPG’s earlier bids in London on 7 March, Vita’s chief executive David Campbell said they undervalued Vita “based on prospects and investments. “The business has a strong balance sheet,” Campbell said, but said TPG, “seeks to take advantage of the adverse impact of raw materials prices on British Vita.” As part of Vita’s defence against TPG, it announced a shareholders’ payout of £1 per share-a total of £185 million, adding to the £108 million it has given back in the last four years. “I believe we run the business well,” Campbell said, adding that the group aims for continuous improvement, constantly looking to run it better.”
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