February 16, 2017 / 2:43 PM / 3 years ago

Hedge fund TCI says has support in battle against Safran-Zodiac deal

PARIS (Reuters) - Hedge fund operator TCI Fund Management said on Thursday it had the support of several other investment firms in its protest against aero engines maker Safran’s agreed bid for seats manufacturer Zodiac Aerospace.

The logo of French aircraft seats and equipment manufacturer Zodiac Aerospace is seen during the company's first half of the 2015/2016 fiscal year presentation in Paris, France, April 20, 2016. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo

“We have received support from several American and European funds. But we are not looking to act in concert with them,” said TCI partner Jonathan Amouyal, speaking to Reuters by telephone.

“We are in contact with a lot of shareholders. There aren’t that many who disagree with us,” added Amouyal, who declined to name the other investment firms that backed TCI’s position.

Earlier this week, TCI wrote to France’s AMF market regulator to protest against the $9 billion Safran-Zodiac deal, which has been agreed upon by the two companies and has the backing of several major investors in both groups.

TCI says that Safran is paying too much for Zodiac, and says minority shareholders should have more information on the deal and more room to express their views on it.

A Safran spokeswoman said the company had no comment to make regarding TCI’s position.

Zodiac is controlled by various French families, including those of its chairman and the Peugeot carmaking dynasty.

The French government has also backed the deal, with France owning around 14 percent of Safran.

Safran management and other employees hold around 12 percent of Safran’s share capital, while the French state and Safran employees together account for around 40 percent of the voting rights of Safran shareholders.

TCI Fund owns about 3.87 percent of Safran’s capital.

Shares in Safran were down 1.9 percent at 64.80 euros at 1424 GMT, when shares in Zodiac were down 1.1 percent.

Analysts at Bernstein downgraded their rating on Safran shares to “market-perform” from “outperform”, saying they saw limited scope for Safran’s share price to outperform until the deal with Zodiac was closed.

Additional reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Greg Mahlich

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