Fletcher’s Board Nod

Crane Group’s board has recommended shareholders to accept a sweetened bid from Fletcher Building for the ASX-listed group. The new offer values Crane, owner of specialist bathroom stores Tradelink and Hudson Building Supplies, at around $800 million – a $57 million boost over the original offer. Crane shareholders have until February 25 to take up the offer, which requires regulatory approval and 90 per cent acceptances. Crane is to pay 50 cents a share as a fully franked special dividend to existing shareholders as part of the deal.

New Zealand-based Fletcher wants to buy Crane to expand in Australia, a market seven times the size of its own, as the nation’s commodity exports and economic growth stoke construction. Crane, which operates in both countries, sells pipes and plumbing products that complement Fletcher’s business.

If Fletcher is successful, Crane will become the largest division inside the group and will make Australia the largest contributor to earnings at 45 per cent. It is understood Crane chief executive Greg Sedgwick will not be retained, but will pocket $12.5 million from the deal as part of existing remuneration packages.