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AkzoNobel rejects improved bid from US rival PPG

Jock Fistick/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Dutch paints and coatings maker AkzoNobel rejected a second takeover proposal from U.S. rival PPG Industries saying an improved 22.4 billion-euro ($24.1 billion) offer was too low and too risky.

Akzo said in a statement the new non-binding PPG proposal made on March 20 was worth 88.72 euros per share in cash and shares, up from a first offer on March 9 worth 83 euros per share which had valued the company at $22 billion.

Shares in the Dutch company, best known for its Dulux paint brand, were trading down 2.5 percent at 74.67 euros at in early morning deals.

Pittsburgh-based PPG, which said after its initial rejection it was confident it could reach a deal with Akzo, could not immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Dutch politicians including Economic Affairs Minister Henk Kamp had publicly opposed PPG's first proposal, saying it was not in the interests of the country.

That proposal was made on the eve of a March 15 national election in which nationalist sentiment played a prominent role and politicians have voiced concerns about possible foreign takeovers of Dutch companies.

'Significant culture gap'

On Monday, four provincial governors also expressed concern regarding a potential Akzo takeover by saying a deal would put 5,000 jobs at risks in their respective regions.

"Akzo belongs in the provinces," the governors said in a statement.

The Dutch company said on Wednesday the second unsolicited proposal did not address its initial concerns which included the valuation, risks the deal might not be accepted by regulators, the leverage of the merged company and job losses.

Akzo's boards unanimously rejected the new offer and reiterated that they would prefer to pursue their own strategy of selling or floating the company's chemicals division.

CEO Ton Buechner said Akzo is "best placed to unlock value within the company ourselves."

Several of the company's shareholders have said they see strategic merit in a deal and encouraged management to engage in talks with PPG. Company officials had been on the road last week in an attempt to shore up support from investors.

However, Buechner moved to stress that such an unsolicited proposal does not warrant engagement from Akzo and "very little has changed" since the first offer was rejected two weeks ago. He also said he believed there was a "significant culture gap" between the Dutch firm and its U.S. rival.

Akzo's CEO repeatedly refused to discuss whether the paints and coatings maker would entertain a potential third bid from PPG as he responded to reporters questions in a conference call on Wednesday.