Southeastern Asset Management has joined investors in pressuring Citigroup (NYSE:C) to raise its $13.4 billion takeover offer for Nikko Cordial (OTC:NIKOY). Southeastern placed an offer on the Tokyo Stock Exchange to sell its 6.6% stake in Japan's third-largest brokerage for 1,900 yen ($16.01) per share, above Citigroup's 1,700 yen bid, the company said today in an e-mailed statement.
Sell orders for other stakes in Nikko have also been placed at this higher price, meaning that at least 20% of Nikko stock has been offered at 1,900 yen in the last few days. From the linked Reuters report:
Some analysts have described the shareholders' attempts as largely symbolic since other sellers are offering the stock at a lower price. However, one Citigroup investor said the shareholders may succeed in getting a higher price.
"I'm assuming that if Citigroup wants to get the deal done, they are going to have to raise their bid, which then becomes a horrible deal for Citi," said Citigroup shareholder William Smith, chief executive of SAM Advisors LLC. "You've got shareholders who want more. Citi does not want to pay more, and I think as you get closer to a vote then the two sides may have to contract and meet somewhere."
Reuters refers to some Nikko shareholders, requesting anonymity, as saying that with more than 20% of the company's stock up for grabs, the brokerage could now attract interest from other possible bidders.
And, apparently, at least one of Nikko's major shareholders feel the bidding process wasn't optimal:
"The process which led to the tender offer did not allow interested parties an opportunity to consider a bid for Nikko Cordial," said Hugh Gillespie, legal counsel for Orbis. "In the absence of an open process, we considered that we had no choice but to allow the market to assess the appropriateness of the tender offer."
I think the odds are against the major shareholders gaining the higher price. At least as it looks now. But this thing has been fluid -- and the last chapter hasn't yet been written.