Consortium just shy of squeezeout level in Alpiq fight

Credit: REUTERS/ARND WIEGMANN

A consortium led by CSA Energie-Infrastruktur Schweiz (CSA) has 89.22% of shares in Swiss utility Alpiq, according to initial results of a tender offer announced by Alpiq on Tuesday amid a fight with an activist investor.

Adds detail about squeezeout threshold, comment from consortium spokesman, analyst comment, share price

ZURICH, Sept 10 (Reuters) - A consortium led by CSA Energie-Infrastruktur Schweiz (CSA) has 89.22% of shares in Swiss utility Alpiq ALPH.S, according to initial results of a tender offer announced by Alpiq on Tuesday amid a fight with an activist investor.

Analysts said the announcement, while an important development in the effort to take Alpiq private, still leaves the buyers just short of the 90% hurdle necessary for a simple merger squeezeout of other shareholders.

Activist investor Knight Vinke said last month it wants Alpiq to stop its delisting and the squeezeout of minority shareholders on grounds the offer "massively undervalues" Alpiq.

Based on the 27.9 million outstanding shares, the 70 Swiss franc per share offer values the company at nearly 2 billion Swiss francs ($2.02 billion).

Definitive preliminary results of the offer are due on Sept. 13, with the deal set to wrap up by Oct. 9. Shares edged down 0.1% to 70.4 francs in early trade.

A consortium spokesman said the group was "very confident" it will secure enough shares to complete the transaction as planned.

A utilities analyst in Zurich said a final outcome was not yet set in stone.

"It remains uncertain whether the core shareholders will be able to reach the 90% hurdle already with the current takeover offer," Zuercher Kantonalbank's Sven Bucher wrote in a note to investors.

($1 = 0.9908 Swiss francs)

(Reporting by Michael Shields, Editing by John Miller)

((Michael.Shields@thomsonreuters.com; +41 58 306 7461; Reuters Messaging: michael.shields.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

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