Tamedia bows out to Swisscom in takeover battle for PubliGroupe

ZURICH Wed May 28, 2014 6:16am EDT

ZURICH May 28 (Reuters) - Swiss media group Tamedia has bowed out of a 468 million-franc ($521 million) takeover battle for Swiss advertising firm PubliGroupe, agreeing with rival bidder Swisscom to jointly take over PubliGroupe's directory business instead.

The telecoms firm and Tamedia together said in a statement on Wednesday that Tamedia would also accept Swisscom's 200-franc offer for its 17.6 percent stake in Publigroupe.

Publigroupe's share price was down 4.59 percent at 199.40 francs by 1013 GMT, valuing the company at 466.6 million francs.

Shares in Tamedia, which had raised its offer to 190 francs from 150 francs on Tuesday, were up 1.8 percent at 114.6 francs, valuing the company at 1.215 billion Swiss francs ($1.4 billion). Swisscom's share price eased 0.6 percent to 537 francs to value the company at nearly 28 billion francs.

"This is the next and probably last step in the takeover battle for PubliGroupe," Helvea analyst Chris Burger said.

"Tamedia leaves PubliGroupe to the financially stronger Swisscom, which will buy the company for 200 Swiss francs per share, if no third player will emerge, which we do not expect," he said.

Under the agreement Swisscom is to combine directory operator local.ch, which it owns with PubliGroupe, with Tamedia's search and information service search.ch in a joint subsidiary.

Swisscom would own 69 percent of the directory subsidiary and consolidate the company, while Tamedia would hold the remaining 31 percent.

"Swisscom and Tamedia want to work together to develop their directory business into a strong Swiss alternative to Google ," the companies said in their joint statement.

Tamedia, which publishes the national daily TagesAnzeiger, owns 75 percent of search.ch, while the remaining 25 percent belongs to Swiss Post. PubliGroupe and Swisscom both own a 50 percent stake in local.ch, the telecoms group said. ($1=0.8977 Swiss francs) (Editing by Greg Mahlich)