ICI Rejects $14.2B Akzo Nobel Bid

ICI says bid undervalues the company; Dow Chemical, BASF Group and Reliance Industries also rumored as potential suitors.

LONDON (AP) - Imperial Chemical Industries PLC rejected an informal 7.2 billion pound ($14.2 billion) takeover bid by Akzo Nobel NV, the company said Monday.

ICI, which makes Dulux paints, said its board unanimously rejected the approach ''on the grounds that it significantly undervalues ICI.''

Akzo Nobel, based in Amsterdam, said ICI would be ''a highly attractive addition to its focused coatings and chemicals business.'' The company acquired the British chemicals company Courtaulds PLC for 2.8 billion euros ($3.7 billion) in 1998.

Dow Chemical Co. of the United States, Germany's BASF Group and Reliance Industries Ltd. of India have also been rumored as potential suitors for ICI.

''A bid battle developing between Akzo and Dow Chemical or other interested parties cannot be ruled out, fueling speculation that ICI could ultimately fall to an offer of as much as 700 pence per share,'' said Jeremy Batstone, analyst at Charles Stanley.

ICI shares rose to 640 pence ($12.65) on the London Stock Exchange, well above Akzo Nobel's offer of 600 pence ($11.86).

James Knight, an analyst at Collins Stewart in London, believes Akzo Nobel might need to pay 650 pence to win ICI. A bidding war, he said, is possible, ''though we think Akzo is in a unique position of having the synergy potential and financial firepower.''

ICI employs around 4,000 people in the U.K.; Akzo Nobel has about 60,000 employees.

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