Update: EXOR Lifts PartnerRe Bid, Breaking Elkann Vow on Final Offer

By and | July 20, 2015

EXOR SpA has raised its hostile bid for PartnerRe Ltd. months after saying it had made its final offer to break up the reinsurer’s merger with AXIS Capital Holdings Ltd.

The latest proposal adds a special dividend of $3 a share, bringing the all-cash offer to $140.50 a share, Turin-based EXOR said Monday in a statement. EXOR Chairman John Elkann had offered $137.50 a share, or about $6.8 billion in May, and said that was his “last offer.”

The bidding war is accelerating ahead of a PartnerRe shareholder vote that is scheduled for Aug. 7, after being postponed from July 24. AXIS last week said it would allow PartnerRe holders to take a dividend of $17.50 a share before the planned merger of the Bermuda-based insurers. EXOR said new terms compensate PartnerRe holders for delays in completing a transaction.

The latest offer “further widens the gap in value with the AXIS transaction,” the company said in the statement.

Elkann is seeking to diversify his investment company beyond industrial holdings such as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV. He is also chairman of the automaker.

AXIS Chief Executive Officer Albert Benchimol has said his planned combination would lead to cost savings. Axis shareholders also are voting Aug. 7 on the deal.

“Although AXIS management could definitely tweak the exchange ratio based on today’s news to come back and try to match EXOR’s offer, that would likely prove to be unpopular with its investor base,” Amit Kumar, an analyst at Macquarie Group Ltd., said in a note. “At this stage, AXIS’ options are fairly limited.”

‘Closing Certainty’

PartnerRe climbed 0.1 percent to $134.97 in New York trading while AXIS increased 3 cents to $54.78. EXOR advanced 0.7 percent in Milan.

AXIS said Monday that it is the better fit for PartnerRe as insurance buyers prepare to sign up for fresh policies.

“We offer deal-closing certainty ahead of the upcoming renewal season, and the combined company will have a superior credit profile,” AXIS said in an e-mailed statement.


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