Kellogg, Abraaj up bids in battle for Egypt’s Bisco Misr-Reuters

(Reuters) – Kellogg Co, the world’s largest maker of breakfast cereals, raised its bid for Egyptian snack maker Bisco Misr on Wednesday, topping a rival offer from UAE’s Abraaj in an intensifying $144 million takeover battle.

Kellogg’s latest bid, for 89.86 Egyptian pounds ($12.57) per share, came on the heels of an offer earlier in the day by Abraaj Asset Management for 88.09 pounds a share, the head of Egypt’s financial regulator Sharif Samy told Reuters.

The bidding period, previously set to end on Wednesday, was extended over the weekend to Dec. 31.

Samy said the deadline for bids would be extended for five working days with each new offer up to 60 days from the first offer when sealed bids would be requested.

Abraaj, the Middle East’s largest private equity firm, made the first bid early last month.

Kellogg hopes the acquisition of Bisco Misr would give it a high-profile presence in the Arab world’s most populous nation.

Food is seen as a potentially lucrative sector in Egypt, with its population of 87 million, and Bisco Misr is an established brand with three factories in Cairo and Alexandria.

The battle between Abraaj and Kellogg is part of a wave of takeovers and share issues that have boosted activity on the Cairo stock market.

Egypt has struggled to revive investor confidence during the political and economic turmoil that followed popular uprisings in 2011. But the Bisco Misr bid battle has shown that foreign investors are returning.

Shareholders with 56 percent of Bisco Misr had already agreed to sell to Abraaj at 73.91 pounds per share.

Abraaj has about $7.5 billion of assets under management.