Refresco Investor Wyser-Pratte to Vote Against Cott Acquisition
By Ellen Proper
(Bloomberg) — An activist shareholder in Refresco Group NV urged shareholders to vote against the soft-drink bottler’s planned $1.25 billion acquisition of Cott Corp.’s soda business, putting pressure on the Dutch company to consider other options, including selling itself to the highest bidder.
Investors should vote no at the shareholder meeting on Sept. 5., Wyser-Pratte Management Co. said in a statement on Friday. The Bedford, New York-based investor, which declined to disclose the size of its stake, earlier called on Refresco to start a strategic review, claiming the Cott deal is designed to block an acquisition of the company.
“Instead of forming a committee to explore strategic alternatives, including an outright sale, to benefit all stakeholders, Refresco has chosen to proceed with a transaction with Cott which raises significant operational, integrational, and financial risks,” Wyser-Pratte said.
A Refresco spokeswoman said the Dutch company has tried to reach out to Wyser-Pratte, but the investor hasn’t made contact.
Proxy advisory company Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. has recommended that shareholders vote in favor of the Cott transaction. ISS said the timing of the deal raised “certain concerns” and “appeared defensive,” though it fits into Refresco’s acquisition strategy and allows it to expand in the U.S.
Refresco earlier this year rejected a takeover bid from French private equity firm PAI Partners SAS that valued the Dutch soft-drink bottler at 1.4 billion euros ($1.5 billion). Wyser-Pratte has said Refresco received interest from a number of other parties earlier this year as well.