With investors holding more than 78% of Kverneland shares agreeing to sell their holdings to Kubota by last week’s offer deadline, the Japanese tractor manufacturer has all but secured control of one of the World’s largest farm implement concerns.
A number of formalities remain but the process that Kubota began in October by writing to the Kverneland board expressing an interest in acquiring the group is moving towards a conclusion.
It is now pretty much certain that Kverneland Group’s numerous factories, sales subsidiaries and more than 2000 employees will join Kubota’s farm and industrial machinery division, which makes tractors, small diesel engines, groundscare equipment, light construction machinery and paddy rice transplanters and harvesters.
It was to broaden the limited portfolio of field equipment that Kubota chairman and CEO Yasuo Masumoto targeted the Norway-based manufacturer. He wants Kubota to get into ‘dry field’ grass and arable farming equipment as part of a globalisation plan that should also see Kubota doing more to serve local markets with products designed for those markets rather than simply transplanted from Japan.
A flurry of trading activity on the Oslo stock exchange over the past fortnight saw a number of US banks and fund managers acquiring Kverneland stock, some with more than the 5% that required their positions to be declared.
By the close of business last Friday, however, stockholders with more than 78% of the shares and voting rights had accepted Kubota’s NOK10.50 per share offer, with Kverneland senior management relinquishing their relatively modest holdings the following Monday. Kubota must now make an offer at the same or higher price to secure any remaining stock.
Acquiring Kverneland will not only add the equivalent of around $518 million in sales revenues to the $8.5 billion turnover generated by Kubota’s farm and industrial machinery division, it will mark a significant step towards the further internationalisation of the concern.
In its bid document, Kubota says it plans to leave Kverneland well alone but explore potential synergies. These might include producing implements for Kubota tractors and exploiting the parent company’s distribution network, particularly in Asia, to help expand sales.
Kverneland is no stranger to the take-over process — it grew through a series of acquisitions in the 1990s that more than doubled its turnover. Among key steps in that process were the purchase of Danish grass equipment maker Taarup, the Greenland Group and its Vicon business, and German sprayer maker Rau.
Financial pressures — and a keen offer — resulted in the sale of Kverneland’s hay baler factory and product range to Kuhn in 2008. But they were replaced in 2010 by acquiring a near-40% stake in Italian baler maker Gallignani and distribution rights to its hay products in most World markets.