Amadeusz Juskowiak

Wallenbergs fight bid for swedish match stake

Swedens Wallenberg group fought back a bid by the Londonbased Swedish financier Erik Penser to secure a large stake in Swedish Match SMBS ST one of the companies at the core of their business empire

A statement issued by the Wallenberg holding companies AB Investor and Forvaltnings AB Providentia said they had taken over an option held by Nobel Industrier Sweden AB to acquire 33 pct of the voting rights in Swedish Match

Thre Wallenbergs paid Nobel Industrier NOBL ST in which Penser group has a 72 pct stake about 20 pct over the market price for the Swedish Match option the statement said

Swedish Matchs B shares open to foreign buyers closed at 424 crowns on Friday The A shares with increased voting rights closed at 450 crowns for the restricted and 455 for the free shares

The statement said the deal increased Investors stake to 494 pct of the voting rights and 148 pct of the share capital while Providentia is left holding 341 pct of the voting rights and 145 pct of the share capital in Swedish Match

The Wallenbergs stake in Swedish Match had previously amounted to 52 pct of the voting rights in the company

The Swedish Match deal will cost the Wallenbergs about 400 mln crowns share analysts said making it one of the most expensise moves the group has undertaken in the last four years to defend its farflung interests from outside predators

The Wallenbergs originally sold Nobel Industrier an arms and chemicals group to Penser in 1984 to pay for buying Volvo VOLV ST out of two other key group companies Atlas Copco ASTS ST and Stora Koppabergs SKPS ST

Since then the Wallenbergs were ousted as the largest shareholders in SKF SKFR ST by Skanska AB SKBS ST and Frederik Lundberg wrested control of Incentive AB from them

Lundberg a Zurichbased Swedish property tycoon also managed to acquire a 25 pct stake in another Wallenberg company the diary equipment firm Alfa Laval AB ALFS ST

During 1986 the Wallenbergs have been concentrating on building up their stake in Investor and Providentia to prevent any raid on the heart of their business empire

But analysts say the Wallenbergs position in the electrical engineering firm ASEA AB ASEA ST is also too small at 126 pct of the voting rights and there has been growing speculation that the group will be forced to sell off fringe interests to protect its core activities