* New Chinese-led bid values company at 939 million euros
* Italian Bonomi has until Jan. 7 to respond
* Bonomi’s Global Resorts says reviewing options (Adds postponement of shareholders meeting)
By Dominique Vidalon
PARIS, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Chinese billionaire Guo Guangchang sweetened his bid for struggling Club Mediterranee at the last minute on Friday, trumping a 24 euro-a-share offer from Italian tycoon Andrea Bonomi in France’s longest-running takeover battle.
The new 24.60 euro offer, made a few hours before Friday’s 1700 GMT deadline, valued the holiday operator at 939 million euros ($1.15 billion). It is the eighth offer Club Med investors have been asked to evaluate since May 2013 when Guo first offered 17 euros.
The new offer will give Club Med “an opportunity to grow, with more resources, in its domestic market and in foreign markets where it must develop today,” Jiannong Qian, head of Guo’s Gaillon Invest II vehicle, told a news conference.
France’s AMF regulator set a new deadline of 1700 GMT on Jan. 7 for Bonomi’s Global Resorts vehicle to make another counterbid. A spokesman for Global Resorts said on Friday it was reviewing all its options.
The AMF has been seeking to bring the process to an end by reducing the deadline period after each bid.
It said that after Jan. 7, the deadline for a new bid would be seven trading days instead of 10. If the regulator feels the process has gone on too long, it still has the option to ask for final, sealed bids.
Club Med shares, suspended ahead of Friday’s announcement, rose to 25.05 euros after resuming trading, their highest since September 2008, suggesting investors expect the battle to continue. The stock is up 44 percent this year.
Guo and Bonomi have been raising their bids in turn for months. Both men see turnaround potential in a business damaged by the weak economy in its core European market and by a stalled attempt to move up market.
Club Med management has consistently backed Guo’s offer.
The Guo camp also said on Friday that it could consider a delisting of Club Med. Bonomi is also in favour of a delisting.
Guo, who Forbes estimates has a net worth of about $4.3 billion, has described Club Med as an ideal investment to tap booming Chinese demand for the kind of leisure it offers for its harried and increasingly affluent city dwellers.
Gaillon Invest II is majority controlled by Guo’s Fosun conglomerate. It now comprises Fosun with a 62.6 percent stake, Portuguese insurer Fidelidade with 20 percent, French private equity partner Ardian with 5.8 percent, the management of Club Med with 2.9 percent and Chinese travel agency U-Tour with 8.7 percent.
Club Med said in a statement after the close of trading that following the new offer, its board had decided to postpone the annual general shareholders meeting that had been scheduled for Jan. 12. A new date will be set later. ($1 = 0.8143 euros) (Additional reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Keith Weir, Jason Neely and David Evans)