BAT lowers Souza Cruz buyout offer for second time on payout
NEW YORK, March 24 (Reuters) - British America Tobacco Plc on Tuesday slightly reduced an offer for the 24.7 percent stake it does not already own in Souza Cruz SA , Brazil's largest cigarette maker, to account for an interest on equity payout approved this week.
In a securities filing, Souza Cruz said BAT now is offering 26.13 reais in cash for each share of Souza Cruz, after subtracting a 0.01 real per share interest on equity payment that the Souza Cruz board approved on Monday.
BAT originally offered 26.75 reais per share, but last week the price was lowered to 26.14 reais per share to account for a dividend payout approved by Souza Cruz shareholders.
The takeover process is suspended pending a request by minority shareholders for a new independent appraisal of Souza Cruz in an extraordinary meeting. Early this month, investment-banking firm NM Rothschild & Sons estimated the fair economic value for Souza Cruz at between 22.09 reais and 24.54 reais per share.
The $3.5 billion buyout would give BAT, the producer of Dunhill cigarettes, full control over Souza Cruz, which has about 80 percent of Brazil's cigarette market. BAT last considered a Souza Cruz buyout almost five years ago, but the plan foundered due to a strong Brazilian currency. (Reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal; Editing by Paul Simao)
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