ZURICH Swisscom raised its bid for PubliGroupe to 214 Swiss francs per share on Tuesday and won support from PubliGroupe's board and major shareholders, suggesting a two-month takeover battle is nearing its end.
Swisscom, Switzerland's national telecoms operator, wants to gain control of PubliGroupe's online directory platforms. It had previously offered 200 francs per share as it competed with media group Tamedia.
Major shareholders holding around 25 percent of PubliGroupe have agreed to tender their shares at the new price, which values the advertising firm at around 500 million Swiss francs ($555 million), Swisscom said.
In a separate statement, PubliGroupe said it supported the increased takeover bid and urged shareholders to accept the offer. It also rejected a separate bid of 190 Swiss francs from Tamedia, which publishes the national newspaper Tages-Anzeiger, as insufficient.
Shares in PubliGroupe have more than doubled since April, when Tamedia made an offer for the company. They were trading up 4.6 percent at 211.6 francs per share by 0822 GMT.
At the end of May, Tamedia agreed to accept Swisscom's 200-franc offer for its 17.6 percent stake in PubliGroupe and to jointly take over PubliGroupe's directory business instead. The agreement with PubliGroupe and its major shareholders will not affect the earlier deal with Tamedia, Swisscom said.
Swisscom said its takeover of PubliGroupe and partnership with Tamedia are both subject to approval from Swiss competition authorities. ($1 = 0.9005 Swiss Francs)
(Reporting by Alice Baghdjian and Caroline Copley.; Editing by Larry King)