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Schaeffer Wants Quick Move Onto Conti Board Paper

Release time : 2015-06-12 11:33:24
German ball bearings maker Schaeffer aims to appoint four of its own managers to Continental AG's supervisory board as soon as possible, owner Maria-Elisabeth Schaeffler told Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung in an interview. "After all, we will soon be a major shareholder," she was quoted as saying. Asked whether Schaeffler could have to wait until Continental's annual general meeting in April to appoint supervisory board members, she said: "That remains to be seen." The four managers that Schaeffler wants to place on the board are Chief Executive Juergen Geissinger, Chief Financial Officer Thomas Hetmann, Schaeffler herself and her son Georg. Schaeffler earlier this year set out to buy Continental and after a bitter stand-off won the automotive supplier's backing in August for a deal to take a stake of up to 49.99 percent. However, on Friday Continental said it was "concerned" that Schaeffler was trying to interfere with its talks to restructure loans. Family-owned Schaeffler who also supply Needle Roller Bearings had sent a letter to Continental's banks asking to be consulted on planned changes to the automotive supplier's loan agreements since it would soon be a major shareholder in the company. Continental said the move breached an investor agreement between the two companies in which Schaeffler vowed not to interfere with management's strategy or demand substantial structural measures. "We did not breach agreements and we did not interfere with Continental's business," Geissinger is quoted in the same interview as telling the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. Schaeffler said: "Honestly, I cannot understand the excitement, and even less that it is made public." Since Schaeffler offered to buy Continental shares, having been forced to increase its bid to 75 euros per share, the company's share price has nearly halved. On Friday the price of Continental's shares closed down 9 percent at 34.10 euros. But Schaeffler said she had no doubts that the purchase had been the right decision. "Our banks were also very taken with the idea of Continental, and they still are," Schaeffler said. The Handelsblatt newspaper on Friday had cited sources at Continental as saying Schaeffler needed 4-7 billion euros ($5.3-9.3 billion) of fresh share capital in the short term. Schaeffler declined to comment on the matter, but Geissinger told the newspaper that financing of the deal was still secure. Schaeffler with its Miniature Bearings gained an unexpected majority stake in Continental when share prices collapsed and Continental's shareholders rushed to accept Schaeffler's offer, lifting Schaeffler's stake in the company to about 90 percent. Schaeffler pledged to keep its stake below 50 percent it would pass on the excess shares to its banks, which would then sell them on. "The banks have up to five years to sell on the Continental shares. And if they want to sell them for less than 75 euros during that time, they need our approval," Geissinger said.