Sweetened Offer Began for Richardson-Vicks

Associated Press

The U.S. subsidiary of Unilever began a sweetened tender offer Monday for all of the outstanding stock of Richardson-Vicks, which last week rejected a slightly lower bid by the Anglo-Dutch consumer products giant.

Unilever U.S. said it would offer $56 a share in cash if Richardson-Vicks’ board of directors decided to support the offer and $48 if it did not.

Last week, Richardson-Vicks’ board unanimously rejected an unsolicited $54-a share proposal from Unilever, calling it “inadequate.”

Worth $1.31 Billion

Malcolm MacGruer, a spokesman at Richardson-Vicks’ headquarters in Wilton, Conn., said his company had no comment on the latest development.

Richardson-Vicks, which produces health- and personal-care products, had about 23.4 million shares outstanding April 30, which would make Unilever’s offer worth as much as $1.31 billion. Unilever said fees, expenses and the exercise of options convertible into Richardson-Vicks stock would boost the cost of the takeover to as much as $1.35 billion.


The latest offer is conditioned on at least 51% of Richardson-Vicks’ stock being tendered, Unilever said. The offer expires at midnight Eastern time Oct. 11, unless extended.

Analysts have said that Unilever would have a tough time acquiring control of Richardson-Vicks without the support of the company or the Richardson family.

The Richardson family owns about 7.3 million shares or nearly 32% of Richardson-Vicks’ stock. Stuart Richardson, who serves as chairman of the company, said last week his family planned to buy an unspecified amount of additional stock.

Richardson-Vicks said after rejecting Unilever’s bid last week that it would begin to acquire up to 22% of its common stock in the open market. It said it had arranged to finance an initial $300 million for the purchase of as many as 5 million shares of the company’s stock.

Richardson-Vicks, whose products include Vicks cold remedies, Oil of Olay skin-care products and Vidal Sassoon hair products, recently adopted an anti-takeover measure requiring that any merger be approved by two-thirds of the company’s shares. Its sales for the fiscal year ended June 30 were $1.2 billion.