UPDATE 1-Most holders of Brazil's Estácio back Kroton bid -source
(Adds details on Kroton's possible hostile bid)
By Juliana Schincariol
RIO DE JANEIRO, June 27 (Reuters) - At least 52 percent of shareholders in Brazilian for-profit college operator Estácio Participações SA have voiced their support for rival Kroton Educacional SA's unsolicited, all-stock bid, which could become hostile "if necessary," a source with direct knowledge of the situation said on Monday.
The source, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, said the offer, which values each share of Estácio at the equivalent of 1.25 share of Kroton, is final. The source did not identify the shareholders who have endorsed Kroton's proposal.
The companies declined to comment. Kroton, the world's biggest for-profit education company by market value, announced the plan to take over Estácio on June 2.
Going hostile would depend on how Estácio's board responds to the Kroton bid, the source added, without elaborating. Some of Estácio's larger holders, such as OppenheimerFunds Inc, could demand a shareholder assembly to discuss the proposal without consent from the board, the source said.
OppenheimerFunds, which owns about 5 percent of Kroton, did not have an immediate comment.
The fight for Estácio, a company with about 588,000 students and annual revenue of 4.3 billion reais ($1.3 billion), is rapidly becoming the fiercest unsolicited takeover battle yet in one of Brazil's fastest-growing industries. Estácio is also the subject of a cash and stock merger proposal by smaller competitor Ser Educacional SA.
Earlier on Monday, Estácio said No. 2 shareholder, the Zaher family, will submit a buyout proposal that would give them a majority stake in the company. The Zahers want at least 50 percent of Estácio plus one share and no more than 75 percent of the company - a key requisite to keep it listed on the São Paulo Stock Exchange. Continuación...