USA: Ali Group, the Italian foodservice business, has joined the race to acquire US manufacturer Welbilt.
Last month the US company Middleby announced it had entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Welbilt in an all-stock transaction. Now the Ali Group has entered the bidding with an improved offer to acquire all of the outstanding shares of Welbilt common stock for $23.00 per share in cash.
Ali Group claims to have substantial cash on hand and holds a Highly Confident Letter from Goldman Sachs International for new financing to fund the proposed transaction. The company maintains it will obtain fully underwritten, binding commitment letters for any debt financing prior to signing a definitive merger agreement, which will not contain any financing condition. It is also says it is “highly confident” its proposed transaction will obtain all necessary regulatory approvals in a timely manner without the uncertainty created by the antitrust provisions contained in the Middleby transaction.
In response, the Middleby Corporation has reiterated its commitment to completing its proposed merger with Welbilt. It believes its proposal provides a “superior offer” compared to Ali Group’s “unsolicited non-binding indication of interest”, describing the bid as “both opportunistic and highly conditional with significant uncertainty”.
Formerly known as Manitowoc Foodservice, Welbilt offers a range of commercial kitchen equipment including Delfield refrigeration equipment, Kolpak cold stores and Manitowoc ice machines.
Founded in 1963, Ali Group is an Italian corporation with headquarters located in Milan, Italy and North American operations based in Chicago, Illinois. It is one of the world’s largest groups with 80 global brands and 58 manufacturing facilities in 15 countries. Its refrigeration brands include Williams, Victory, Friginox and Friulinox, as well as Scotsman and Icematic icemakers.
Based in Elgin, Illinois, Middleby is a major supplier of foodservice, beverage and food service equipment. Its brands include Celfrost and Desmon commercial refrigeration, Follett ice makers and Marvel Scientific medical refrigeration equipment.