Egypt's regulator has extended to Jan. 22 the deadline for bids to acquire Arab Dairy, after Pioneers Holdings raised its offer for the cheesemaker at the centre of a takeover battle with Europe's biggest dairy group Lactalis.
Pioneers, a financial firm that already owns 25 percent of Arab Dairy, increased its offer for the company to 59.20 pounds per share this week, valuing it at $49.68 million and topping a rival offer of 58 pounds from Lactalis.
Pioneers originally bid 56 pounds a share for the Egyptian cheesemaker in August but has been forced to increase its offer price after a slew of rivals entered the fray.
Lactalis subsidiaries Al-Nour for Dairy Industries, Best of France for Dairy Products and Best Cheese Company for Dairy Products indicated in November they were planning to offer 66 pounds per share for Arab Dairy, pending due diligence. They subsequently offered 58 pounds per share.
The market regulator said in a statement on Thursday it had accepted Pioneers' raised offer but extended the deadline from Jan. 15 to allow other suitors to revise their prices.
The battle for control of Arab Dairy is part of a recent flurry of activity on Egypt's stock exchange, signalling resurgent interest from international investors in a market looking to restore confidence after the turmoil unleashed by a 2011 uprising which ousted leader Hosni Mubarak.
U.S. group Kellogg, the world's largest breakfast cereal maker, emerged this week as the likely winner of a takeover battle for Egyptian snackmaker Bisco Misr.
Saudi Arabia's Arrow Food Distribution is among the other bidders for Arab Dairy. Denmark's Arla Foods dropped its bid last month after due diligence.
Pioneers specialises in brokerage services and offers market research and investment banking services for retail and institutional clients. It operates in Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain and invests in the real estate, industrial, and financial sectors.