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Frutarom to Bid for All Etol Shares in a Month

Ljubljana, 18 January (STA) - After signing a deal to acquire a majority in Slovenia's flavouring producer Etol, Israel's Frutarom Industries on Wednesday announced a bid for the takeover of all of Etol's shares within 30 days.

The takeover bid will be published by the Frutarom Swiss subsidiary Frutarom Schweiz, follows from the intention for the takeover published in today's issue of daily Delo.

Etol said yesterday that Frutarom Schweiz had notified them on the acquisition of a total of 142,666 shares or 56.031% of the share capital of Etol for EUR 19.64m or an average of EUR 137 per share.

The Etol share closed at EUR 75 on the Ljubljana Stock Exchange before trading was suspended on Tuesday due to the news of the acquisition.

The Israeli company paid in 31.6% of Etol's shares shortly following Monday's signature, while the acquisition of the remaining 24.4% will be completed in the coming days.

It has been made known that Frutarom had agreed on the acquisition of 24.43% of Etol's share capital with NFD Holding, the troubled Slovenian financial holding.

The other part of the shares will be paid in as soon this is allowed by the court, considering the shares are pledged as collateral, Frutarom president and CEO Ori Yehudai told Wednesday's issue of Finance.

He said that the prices the company paid for individual blocks of shares differed, but he did confirm that the average price fluctuated at around EUR 137 per share.

Frutarom notified of its takeover intention on Monday the Slovenian Securities Market Agency, Competition Protection Office as well as the management and workers of Etol.

The company will publish a takeover bid not sooner than ten and no later than 30 days after the publication of the intention, according to the notice in Delo.

Yehudai could not say how much his company would offer per share, but he assured the business daily that the price would be higher than those agreed on for the blocs so far.

Asked why they were taking over Etol, the official said he had been eyeing the company for years, but was now given the opportunity to buy it because of the financial problems faced by its owners.

"Etol is an excellent company because of its good staff and management, good products, strong development and because it plays a leading role in a number of markets we are not yet present in," Yehudai was quoted by Finance.

Frutarom would prefer to become the sole owner of Etol. "We'd not want to be stuck in the company as a 56% owner," he said, adding that Etol was strategically important for Frutarom's growth, especially in central and eastern Europe.

"Our goal is for Etol to expand its business, to make extra hiring," Yehudai told Finance, adding that Frutarom would invest a lot of money in Etol in case it became more than a 75% owner.

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