DSV A/S, one of the world’s biggest freight forwarding companies, will pursue a plan to take over Panalpina even after the Swiss company’s biggest shareholder made clear it’s opposed to the tie-up.
“It’s not dead,” Chief Financial Officer Jens Lund said by phone on Thursday. “We’re in a phase where there isn’t necessarily pressure on us but the other part needs to evaluate what their alternatives are.”
DSV last month bid about $4 billion for Panalpina, hoping to add to a string of successful takeovers that have made the Danish company the world’s fifth-biggest in an otherwise fragmented market. Panalpina’s largest shareholder, the Ernst Goehner Foundation, this week rejected the bid, though there’s speculation it may accept a higher offer.
“We’re sending some signals to them on what we may consider,’’ Lund said. “On objective terms, it’s a very high multiple we’re offering for the company. That means that alternative plans need to be very good.”
He also said that he “respects” that Panalpina needs time to evaluate the offer.
DSV has already been in contact with some Panalpina investors, and the feedback has been “very positive,” Lund said. He declined to say whether DSV would be willing to raise its cash and stock offer.
When DSV announced its bid, shares in both the Danish and Swiss companies rose. Because of the stock component in the bid price, that essentially sweetened the offer from DSV.
“One could imagine that that’s part of their considerations now,’’ he said.
DSV delivered fourth-quarter results on Thursday that matched analyst estimates, in a report that was overshadowed by speculation about its efforts to buy Panalpina. Chief Executive Officer Jens Bjorn Andersen seemed to underscore his commitment to the deal, saying “we believe that the right transactions can create value for all stakeholders.”
At the same time, DSV took the rare decision not to buy back shares, fanning speculation that it wants to preserve cash on an assumption that the Panalpina deal is likely to go through.
Lund said that DSV’s policy of returning profits to shareholders “will continue, as always, once this rather large issue has been resolved.”
It’s worth noting that DSV proposed raising its dividend for 2018, to 2.25 kroner a share, or 423 million kroner ($64 million) in total, from 2 kroner a year earlier. The company returned 4.5 billion kroner to shareholders last year, mostly in the form of buybacks.