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Ferro Corp rebuffs bids from Apollo, CVC: sources

(Reuters) - U.S. specialty chemicals company Ferro Corp turned down acquisition offers from private equity firms Apollo Global Management LLC and CVC Capital Partners Ltd as too low, people familiar with the matter said on Friday.

Ferro’s board met this week and rejected the all-cash offers, which were below the company’s stock trading price of around $14, the people said.

Ferro may explore other alternatives if the buyout firms do not improve their offers, including looking at an acquisition itself, the people added.

The sources asked not to be identified because the matter is confidential. Ferro and CVC did not immediately respond to requests for comment, while Apollo declined to comment.

Ferro shares slumped 10.3 percent in extended-hours trading in New York on Friday to $12.80.

Based in Mayfield Heights, Ohio, Ferro manufactures performance materials for the building, construction, automotive, appliances, electronics and household furnishings markets. It had a market value of $1.2 billion as of the end of trading on Friday.

In March, Ferro shareholder FrontFour Capital Group LLC, a Greenwich, Connecticut-based hedge fund, called on the company to explore a sale, arguing that potential buyers would be interested in Ferro’s “significant operational improvement, strong market share positions, robust free cash flow generation and deep acquisition pipeline.”

FrontFour became a Ferro shareholder in 2012 and embarked on a proxy contest in early 2013, which it subsequently settled in exchange for nominations to the company’s board of directors.

In April, FrontFour said it was concerned that Ferro’s board may not be engaging with potential buyers and was refusing to provide transparency to shareholders regarding the company’s strategic path.

Ferro announced in May that it had hired Lazard Ltd to explore strategic alternatives after Reuters reported the company was exploring a sale.

Ferro said in April its 2016 first-quarter net sales increased to $277 million from $263 million in the year-ago quarter. First-quarter adjusted earnings per diluted share were 22 cents, compared with 23 cents in the same period last year.

Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis and Mike Stone in New York; Editing by Jonathan Oatis

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