Confirming previous reports (See IJ Website Sept. 24), Sampo, the Finnish banking and insurance group, yesterday confirmed that it was withdrawing its $2.3 billion bid for Storebrand, Norway’s largest insurance company.
The abandonment came as no surprise. the bid has been consistently oppose by the ?Norwegian government, and by Den Norske bank, which holds almost 10 percent of Storebrand’s shares, enough to block Sampo’s bid.
The tragic events of September 11 have depressed equity markets around the world, and made acquiring Storebrand a less attractive proposition than it was last May.
News reports indicated that Sampo CEO Bjorn Wahlroos remained convinced that the combination of Sampo and Storebrand was a good strategic fit, but that he recognized that the combination of the delays since the offer was made, the negative developments in the financial markets, and the weakening of Storebrand’s results had led him to conclude that at the price originally offered it was no longer financially justifiable for Sampo’s shareholders.
Sampo is still interested, however, Wahlroos indicated, in merging its non-life operations with Sweden’s Skandia and Storebrand through the “If” Group.
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