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Exor petitions PartnerRe employees

PartnerRe: Exor is actively seeking support for its takeover bid from the reinsurer's staff

Italian investment giant Exor has petitioned employees at takeover target PartnerRe to back its bid for the company.

Exor has written to workers at the Pembroke-based company who are also shareholders asking them to vote against a rival bid by Axis, also Bermuda-based, at a meeting later this month.

And Exor included a series of toll-free phone numbers in Bermuda, France, Ireland, the UK and Switzerland for PartnerRe share-holding employees who want to throw their votes behind the Italian bid.

And Exor — which has pledged to keep the company intact as stand-alone part of its group, which is controlled by the billionaire Agnelli family — claimed it already received “strong support” from PartnerRe staff.

The letter said: “We appreciate the strong support of PartnerRe’s employees and want to ensure you that if you hold shares through a broker, you can vote your shares without PartnerRe’s board of directors knowing how you are voting.

“By voting Exor’s gold proxy card there is no fear of retribution for voting your shares against the Axis transaction in pursuit of Exor’s superior offer that aligns with employees’ best interests.”

The letter added that “the critical first step” to an Exor takeover was to reject the Axis merger deal when shareholders of both companies meet to vote on the offer later this month.

Exor raised its original $6.4 billion bid for PartnerRe — equivalent to $130 a share — to $6.8 billion, or $137.50 a share, in May.

The cash deal went up against the all-share merger proposition and Exor said it intended to retain PartnerRe as a stand-alone company and keep existing management and staff.

The Axis-PartnerRe deal would create the world’s fifth largest reinsurer and the two companies have said joining forces would save $200 million a year — with some of the savings from redundancies among the combined Bermuda-based staff of around 130.

And the two reinsurance firms, near-neighbours on Pitts Bay Road in Pembroke, would also probably require less office space.

After PartnerRe rejected Exor’s initial bid, it announced a sweetener for shareholders — an $11.50 per share special dividend for shareholders if the $11 billion merger was completed.

The “break fee”, payable if one of the companies walked away from the deal, was also increased from $250 million to $280 million.