Minerals Technologies Lifts Amcol Bid to $1.74B

NEW YORK (The Deal) -- Minerals Technologies  (MTX) has returned with a sweetened bid for Amcol International (ACO), offering $1.74 billion for the mineral producer to again leap past a competing offer from Imerys.

New York-based Minerals Technologies is offering $45.75 per share for Amcol, trumping a $45.25 per share bid submitted March 4 by Imerys. Mineral Technologies also removed a financing contingency from its offer, saying it has signed commitment papers from JPMorgan Chase (JPM) to finance the purchase.

Minerals Technologies chairman and CEO Joseph C. Muscari called the latest bid "clearly superior," in a statement and said Amcol would be a good fit inside his organization.

"We are highly confident in the merits of this transaction, including the strategic fit, the $50 million of specific and readily available synergies and the substantial growth opportunities for our shareholders," Muscari said.

Hoffman Estates, Ill.-based Amcol is one of the world's largest producers of bentonite and has substantial reserves of the mineral, which is used in the construction of metal parts, sealing products and in some consumer products.

Paris-based Imerys in early February announced plans to acquire Amcol for $41 per share in cash, but Minerals Technologies stepped in days later with an initial $42 per share offer that was eventually raised to $42.50.

After a series of bids and counters, Imerys returned with a $45.25 per share bid earlier this week after Amcol's board said it had decided that the Minerals Technologies offer could be superior and said it would engage in talks.

Minerals Technologies said that even at the higher price it expects a deal for Amcol would immediately contribute to earnings, and said it believes there are opportunities to streamline Amcol's operations.

"Our strong operating-management system will enable MTI to quickly and effectively integrate Amcol and to drive near-term growth in shareholder value," Muscari said. "We look forward to working with Amcol management and employees to complete this transaction and to engage with customers."

It remained to be seen whether Imerys will once again counter. The French building materials supplier had hoped to use Amcol to expand its access to construction and metalworking minerals, and also as a platform for it to expand into the energy services sector.

Shares of Amcol climbed less than 1% on Thursday morning, trading at $46.89 apiece on investor hope that the bidding war is not yet over.

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