(Corrects third bullet and second paragraph to show the
threshold has not yet been lowered)
* Extends end of offer period to April 18 from March 14
* Cites ongoing talks with Chinese regulator
* To cut minimum acceptance threshold to 75 percent
* Says does not expect to have to extend offer again
FRANKFURT, March 14 German liquid crystal maker
Merck KGaA extended the offer period for its planned
takeover of Britain's AZ Electronic Materials for a
fifth time on Friday, citing ongoing talks with Chinese
It also said it would lower the minimum acceptance threshold
to 75 percent from 95 percent once the deal had been approved in
China, which means that only at least three quarters of shares
in AZ would need to be tendered for the deal to go through.
Merck, the world's largest maker of liquid crystals used in
TVs and tablet and smartphone screens, agreed in December to buy
AZ for $2.6 billion to expand its range of specialist chemicals
for hi-tech gadgets.
By Friday, 64.2 percent of AZ shares had been tendered.
Merck extended the offer period until April 18 on Friday,
from March 14, giving it just over a month to obtain approval of
the deal from Chinese antitrust regulators and reach the new
lower minimum acceptance threshold.
Az Electronic generates the bulk of its revenue in Asia.
China's new-found clout in regulating global mergers is causing
headaches for some companies seeking high-stakes deals that need
"Merck has continued to have constructive dialogue with
MOFCOM (the Ministry of Commerce of the People's Republic of
China) and Merck expects to obtain Chinese antitrust clearance
by 18 April 2014," the company said in a statement, adding it
did not expect to have to extend the offer period a sixth time.
Merck's chief executive Karl-Ludwig Kley said last week he
was confident the planned takeover could be completed in the
first half of this year.
BoA Merrill Lynch advised Merck on the deal, while
Rothschild, Goldman Sachs and UBS advised AZ.
(Reporting by Maria Sheahan; Editing by David Goodman and