D-Day for Aveva as French takeover looms: Shareholders cast their votes on future of UK tech champion
The future of UK tech champion Aveva will be decided today as votes are counted for a contentious takeover by France’s Schneider Electric.
Aveva is one of the London Stock Exchange’s few major tech players alongside Darktrace, Sage and Softcat.
It has agreed a deal that would see Paris-based Schneider buy the 41 per cent of the company that it does not already own, for 3225p a share.
National asset: Aveva is one of the London Stock Exchange’s few major tech players alongside Darktrace, Sage and Softcat
But the deal, which values Aveva at £10billion, is hanging in the balance and needs the support of shareholders at a meeting being held today.
If they approve it Aveva will be removed from the market in a blow to the UK’s credibility as a hub for innovative tech firms.
Jeremy Hunt has promised to turn the UK into the ‘world’s next Silicon Valley’ by combining the country’s science and technology prowess with its ‘formidable financial services’.
But the deal would mark an early setback for those plans. London has struggled to attract leading tech firms despite repeated over efforts by Tory governments over the past decade.
Aveva’s takeover requires the approval of at least 75 per cent of minority shareholders at the vote tomorrow.
Given Schneider cannot vote, it would only take some 10 per cent of the overall shareholder base to reject it for the deal to be blocked.
Jupiter, M&G Investments, Davidson Kempner and Canadian firm Mawer have come out and publicly stated they will vote against the deal.
Another top 20 investor has joined them but does not want to be named.
Schneider and Aveva have been engaged this week in a last-ditch effort to shore up support for the bid as it comes down to the wire.
And in a boost for Schneider, major Aveva shareholder Dr Patrick Kennedy has backed the deal.
Kennedy was given a 4.2 per cent stake in the business when it bought his company Osisoft, an American rival of Aveva, two years ago.
The deal will see Kennedy net a mammoth £420million windfall from his holding.
Concerns have also been raised about Schneider’s joint venture with Chinese conglomerate Delixi Electric on security grounds.
Critics say that if Aveva is taken over its proprietary technology is at risk of falling into Chinese hands.
Spun out of Cambridge University in the 1960s, Aveva provides software to help engineers design major industrial projects as well as products that help run factories.