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CVC denies Austrian ‘locust’ slur

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AUSTRIA - Private equity investor CVC Capital Partners has announced that it was not responsible for last week's 30% rise in the share price of Austrian blue chip steelmaker Böhler-Uddeholm.

CVC claims substantial backing by pension fund money.

The surge in the share price of Böhler-Uddeholm, reportedly the result of a single shareholder buying 1m shares, provoked a local outcry against a takeover of the firm by "foreign locusts" a pejorative term used to describe private equity companies. The purchase followed rumours of a possible hostile takeover.

CVC senior partner Christian Wildmoser told a press conference in Vienna that CVC was not a factor in the Böhler-Uddeholm share movements. "We had nothing to do with it," he said. "We do not own a single share in Böhler-Uddeholm at the moment, neither directly or indirectly."

CVC is seeking to become the majority shareholder with a 50% plus one share stake, he said, but it is not a "locust or thief".

He added that there is no intention of taking the company off the stock market and stressed that "one must be drunk" to attempt to close down any of Böhler-Uddeholm's locations as they were strategically well placed.

Meanwhile the leader of the major trade union in Böhler-Uddeholm, Erich Foglar, told union members that "investors are not bad per se", but that it mattered what they were doing. He said it would be desirable if the company ownership did not change after five or six years when the investor earned enough money.

He suggested the creation of an Austrian Fund that should be backed by major institutional investors and hold stakes in key companies to ensure long-term stability.

CVC is an investment company that is substantially backed by pension fund money. A major bulk of the investment in CVC's funds comes from "two large Californian pension funds", a CVC spokeswoman told IPE.

Last year the Irish National Treasury Management Agency, running the €18.8bn National Pension Reserve Fund (NPRF), completed a €75m private equity commitment with CVC.

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