Rank increases its SIG stake, takeover offer

ZURICH, Switzerland (AP)

Rank Group Ltd. said Saturday it has increased its stake in Swiss packaging firm SIG Holding AG to 22 percent, and has upped its offer price to take over the company.

“Rank is now the largest shareholder in SIG, is committed to this strategic position and in due course would anticipate discussing appropriate board representation,” the New Zealand-based company said in a statement.

The new offer of 435 Swiss francs (US$354; �269.10) a share compares with its earlier bid of 370 francs. SIG recommended last month that shareholders reject the previous offer.

SIG has also received a bid from Elopak AS and CVC Capital Partners. The two companies, operating under the name Romanshorn SA, have offered 400 francs (US$325.52; �247.45) a share.

Rank said Saturday that it purchased 1.43 million shares, but did not say when the transaction occurred.

The move, however, corresponds with an off-bourse sale Thursday of over 1 million shares at 435 francs per share _ the same price cited in Rank’s new offer, which expires March 29.

SIG shares have soared since the company began receiving acquisition bids last year. Shares fell 4.5 percent on Friday to close at 444 francs (US$361.33; �274.67) on the Zurich exchange.