Weir loses latest round of its battle for key Australian takeover target

WEIR Group is considering its options this weekend after the Glasgow-based engineering giant lost a regulatory tussle to block a rival bid for Australian takeover target Ludowici.

The Australian Takeovers Panel yesterday said it would allow Danish engineer FLSmidth to proceed with its raised offer of A$11 (674p) a share for Ludowici, which makes equipment used in the mining industry.

Weir, which has tabled an offer of A$10 per share, had argued FLSmidth should not be allowed to sweeten its bid after chief executive Jorgen Huno Rasmussen was quoted in January as saying the offer at that time of A$7.20 “was final and would not be raised”.

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Weir declined to comment on the panel’s decision, though a further announcement is expected next week. In addition to either raising its bid or walking away from the deal, Weir could also opt to pursue a judicial review of the case.

Weir wants to increase its exposure to Australia’s booming mining sector, but has consistently touted the line that all of its acquisitions must meet stringent financial return targets. Ludowici is among the world leaders in its specialist field, with operations in China, India, South Africa and South America.

Ludowici, one of Australia’s oldest listed companies, was already locked in talks with FL- Smidth when Weir intervened last month with a bid of A$7.92.

At that point, the Scottish engineering group asked the Australian Takeovers Panel to rule that FLSmidth had already made its final offer.

FLSmidth yesterday also made its first acquisition in China.