SWEDEN – Old Mutual announced today that shareholder approval for its Skandia offer has increased to 68.6%, and that settlement is expected by the end of January.

Old Mutual stated last month that it had a 62.5% acceptance.

According to Old Mutual, approval from financial regulators is continuing, and it has already received anti-trust clearances.

“Approvals have now been received from financial regulators in Sweden and most other jurisdictions,” said a press statement released today.

“Currently, approval from the UK FSA and a small number of other jurisdictions, including Ireland, Italy, Poland and Spain remain outstanding.”

These approvals are expected shortly, and settlement is expected to go ahead by the end of January.

According to an Old Mutual spokesperson, “We would clearly like as large an acceptance rate as possible, but we are used to working with minority shareholders and look forward to a fruitful dialogue with them in future.”

Renowned opponent to Old Mutual’s offer and major Skandia shareholder Andra AP-fonden, the Second Swedish National Pension/AP2, told IPE: “We are not surprised; the offer is not good enough; and for this transaction to make sense, they Old_Mutual need at least 90%.”

At the start of January, AP2 coordinated the activities of large minority shareholders against Old Mutual’s bid for Skandia.

The fund, which owns 3.5% of Skandia, issued a set of demands regarding board composition.

“If the amount of the current offer is not increased, the proportion of minority shareholders in Skandia will be significant,” Andra AP-fonden said at the time.

AP2 was coordinating the negotiations to “ensure that clients of both Skandia and Skandia Liv shall continue to retain full confidence in these two companies and to enable minority shareholders to participate positively in Skandia’s ongoing development”.

It called for, amongst other things, no less than three of Skandia’s eight board members to be nominated by the minority shareholders, and wanted shareholders to be provided with “complete data” on all future transactions between Old Mutual and Skandia, with decisions being subject to approval by 90% of the votes at a general meeting.

Old Mutual told IPE that it does not plan to increase its offer.

“The offer represents good value to Skandia and our shareholders. We see no reason to increase the price,” said the spokesperson.

She added that she did not foresee minority shareholders causing a threat to the expected settlement.

She said: “We are used to working with minority shareholders - we do so already with our SA subsidiaries, M&F and Nedbank. We look forward to a fruitful dialogue with all Skandia shareholders at the close of the transaction.”