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Main owner and AMF launch bid to buy out retailer ICA Gruppen

By Reuters

STOCKHOLMICA Gruppen’s main owner ICA-handlarnas Forbund and pension fund AMF said on Wednesday they had made a recommended offer for the Swedish grocery retailer that values it at 107.4 billion crowns ($12.5 billion).

ICA-handlarnas Forbund’s and AMF‘s joint bidding company Murgrona Holding said in a statement they were offering other owners 534 crowns per share.

The offer represents an 11% premium to the closing price for ICA Gruppen’s shares on Nov. 9.

ICA-handlarnas Forbund, which currently holds 54% of ICA Gruppen and is an association of ICA store owners, would after the deal hold 87% of shares in Murgrona Holding and AMF 13%.

ICA Gruppen in an unlisted environment, enables a more long-term investment horizon and a growth enhancing focus and is thus considered to be most favourable to carry out the changes that ICA-handlarnas Forbund deems necessary,” they said.

ICA Gruppen’s shares have been rising since late October when a media report pointed to the company as an attractive buyout candidate.

Murgrona Holding noted that the offer represented a premium of 29% compared to before the market speculation regarding a potential public offer that followed on the media report.

ICA Gruppen said in a separate statement its board unanimously recommended shareholders to accept the offer.

Swedish grocery store chain ICA Sverige accounts for the bulk of ICA Gruppen’s business. ICA Gruppen also owns a pharmacy chain, a grocery retain chain in the Baltics, and a bank.

ICA Gruppen’s shares stood at 533 crowns in early trade.

($1 = 8.5743 Swedish crowns)

(This story corrects to Wednesday in paragraph 1 and Nov. 9 in paragraph 3)