Lonza investor to sell share
BZ Group Holding plans to sell its 19.8 per cent stake in the
business in the coming weeks in a bid to raise cash for the
Swiss fine chemicals company Lonza said today that Martin Ebner's BZ Group Holding plans to sell its 19.8 per cent stake in the business in the coming weeks in a bid to raise cash for the investor group.
The stake is worth about SF800 million (€547m), according to a report on the move by news agency Bloomberg, and this is based on the company's current market capitalisation.
Lonza added that Ebner would resign as its chairman, "in order to avoid any potential conflict of interest." The move, effective immediately, would see Sergio Marchionne, formerly vice chairman of the board, appointed non-executive chairman and professor Bernard Mach in the position of vice-chairman, said the group.
The board is to propose additional board members for election at the next shareholders' meeting.
The Bloomberg report maintains that Ebner gave up control of the BZ Group Holding funds he founded in July after their value fell by half in the first seven months of 2002. He is also rumoured to be trying to sell equity stakeholdings to satisfy demands of his banks.
"Given the importance and size of BZ's stake in Lonza and the shared desire to ensure a smooth transition in ownership, the board of directors of Lonza has agreed to support the sale process by committing Lonza's executive management to provide full details of the company's operational and strategic objectives, including the increasing relevance of its biotechnology activities," Lonza said in a statement.
Shares of Lonza, the world's third-largest maker of drug ingredients, have lost more than 30 per cent of their value since May as the company faces slowing demand from the pharmaceutical industry, according to the Bloomberg report.
BZ Group has so far revealed nothing about potential buyers of the stakes.