March 4, 2020 / 9:29 AM / in a month

German Metro shareholders had no approach by Sysco on potential takeover

FRANKFURT, March 4 (Reuters) - Two leading German shareholders in Metro said on Wednesday that they had not been approached by Sysco over a potential takeover of the wholesaler by the U.S. food distributor.

“There has been no takeover offer by Sysco so far”, said a spokesman for the Meridian Foundation and the Beisheim Group, who own a combined 23% Metro stake.

Sysco, a distributor of food and other products to restaurants, nursery homes and colleges, held talks with Metro late last year, sources close to the matter had said on Tuesday, with one of them adding that talks had continued this year.

Once a sprawling retail conglomerate, Metro has restructured in recent years to focus on its European cash-and-carry business, selling off the Kaufhof department stores, splitting from consumer electronics group Ceconomy and selling its struggling Real hypermarkets business.

Metro’s transformation into a wholesale group has put it on Sysco’s radar as a potential foothold in Europe, one of the sources had said.

The U.S. company’s interest was further stoked by last year’s failed 5.8 billion euro ($6.4 billion) takeover bid by Czech businessman Daniel Kretinsky and Slovak partner Patrik Tkac, the source added.

Kretinsky and Tkac declined to comment on whether they have been contacted by Sysco. Their vehicle EP Global Commerce holds close to a 30% stake in Metro and had offered 16 euros per share under its aborted takeover attempt. (Reporting by Matthias Inverardi Writing by Arno Schuetze Editing by Michelle Martin)

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