UPDATE 2-Neles board backs Alfa offer over Valmet

(Adds Valmet comments, updates shares)

Oct 12 (Reuters) - The board of Finnish engineer Neles is sticking with its recommendation for shareholders to accept a takeover offer from Alfa Laval, saying it does not have enough details on a rival merger proposal from Valmet to make a comparison. Valmet, the largest shareholder of valves maker Neles, approached Neles in September with a merger proposal, challenging a $2 billion bid from Swedish engineering group Alfa Laval.

“Despite our efforts, there is no concrete proposal from Valmet’s Board of Directors available to Neles which we could fairly assess from the perspective of Neles’ shareholders,” board chairman Jukka Moisio said in a statement.

In response, Valmet repeated its opposition to Alfa Laval’s 11.50 euros per share bid and said it had outlined the strategic rationale for the combination, the potential structure of the transaction and the potential for synergies.

“Valmet has also made a proposal on the timetable and emphasized its willingness to engage in clarify a more specific merger proposal including a share exchange ratio,” it said.

Valmet, which develops and supplies technologies, automation systems and services for the pulp, paper and energy industries, has been raising its stake in Neles since Alfa Laval made its offer. It held 29.5% of shares at the end of September.

Valmet said it was worried Alfa Laval could waive its 2/3 acceptance condition and potentially complete its tender offer with a lower acceptance level.

Alfa Laval was not immediately available to comment.

Neles, whose valves are used in industries ranging from oil and gas to pulp and paper, became an independent company in July when parent Metso’s 2019 deal to merge its bigger minerals technology unit with Outotec was finalised.

Shares in Neles were 0.4% higher at 11.62 euros. Valmet was down 0.4% and Alfa Laval down 0.9%. (Reporting by Tarmo Virki in Tallinn, Additional reporting by Helena Soderpalm in Stockholm; editing by Mark Potter, Kirsten Donovan)