While large corporate mergers and acquisitions are few and far in-between, the demise of Aton GmbH's takeover of construction company Murray & Roberts is an event worth celebrating. That is so even as the aborted takeover robs South Africa of desperately needed foreign investment. Family jewels should never be sold. Instead, partnerships with foreign investors best serve the local investor community.
Had the German investor succeeded in its hostile takeover, it would have robbed the JSE and South Africa of one of its last construction champions. Another major South African company would have been forced off our pension portfolios, and further limited the pool of available investment opportunities on the JSE. Murray & Roberts would now be joining the likes of Illovo Sugar, Pioneer Foods, which is the subject of a takeover by American drinks-maker PepsiCo, and milk producer Clover, also in the last steps of a takeover by an Israeli company.
The independent board of the construction company had opposed to the proposed takeover, and refused to co-operate with the German suitor. The directors did it for a different reason, but I take my hat off to them for frustrating the Germans.
Last week Murray & Roberts announced that...