Swiss-based cocoa processor, Barry Callebaut, said this week that it had suspended efforts to take full control of chocolate maker Stollwerck after minority shareholders in the German firm filed a lawsuit against a proposed squeeze-out.
The company acquired 96.10 per cent of Stollwerck shares through its German subsidiary Van Houten Beteiligungs in August last year.
The following month, the subsidiary issued a mandatory public offer to buy the remaining shares of minority shareholders of Stollwerck for €295.00 per share. When the public offer expired, Van Houten Beteiligungs offered to pay the minority shareholders a cash compensation of €295.00 per share so that the shares could be subsequently delisted.
Barry Callebaut stressed this week that Stollwerck would contest the lawsuit and that it regretted the delay caused by the 'rescissory action'. But the company remains determined.
"Not a single squeeze-out has been ultimately blocked by these legal challenges," said the chairman of the board of Barry Callebaut, Andreas Schmid.
Despite the action from the minority shareholders, the cocoa-processing giant confirmed that integration of Stollwerck is 'proceeding on track and should be completed in the summer of 2004.'