Fintech group ION takes control of Italy's Cerved after takeover bid

MILAN (Reuters) – Fintech group ION has succeeded in its bid to gain control of Italian credit management and data group Cerved, data from the Italian bourse showed on Thursday.

Borsa Italiana said that Cerved’s investors tendered shares equivalent to 78.9% of the bid’s target, exceeding the minimum threshold of two-thirds of the company’s shares set by Dublin-based ION, led by Italian businessman Andrea Pignataro.

Investors who tendered their shares will receive 10.20 euros per share, a price that gives Cerved a valuation of almost 2 billion euros ($2.36 billion).

ION, through vehicle Castor Bidco, launched its tender offer in mid-July at 9.50 euros per share, a price deemed too low by Cerved’s board, prompting the fintech group to raise its offer to 10.20 euros at the end of August.

Cerved’s board has said the new price was in the lower part of the appropriate price range.

Cerved shares kept trading below the offer price until last Friday, when ION said it would pay 10.50 euros per share if it managed to obtain a 90% stake during the offer period.

Since ION did not reach the 90% threshold in its takeover bid, Cerved will not be automatically delisted. Still, a delisting could still happen through a merger between Cerved and one of ION’s subsidiaries.

ION has said owning more than two-thirds of Cerved would allow it to call an extraordinary meeting of Cerved’s shareholders at which it could seek approval for a merger between Cerved and one of its units.

In March ION bought Italian banking software provider Cedacri, and bankers say a combination of the group with Cerved would make sense.

Cerved shares closed on Thursday at 10.11 euros.

($1 = 0.8457 euros)

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