Swiss chocolate maker Barry Callebaut has said that it has temporarily halted the compulsory buyout of the minority shareholders of its German unit Stollwerck after a lawsuit challenging the buyout was filed.

Shareholders at Barry Callebaut’s general meeting on 30 April voted to squeeze out Stollwerck minority shareholders in exchange for cash compensation of CHF295 (US$225.5) per share.

Barry Callebaut said Stollwerck would contest the lawsuit. “Challenging squeeze-out resolutions has, unfortunately, become commonplace. Not a single squeeze-out has been blocked by these legal challenges,” board chairman Andreas Schmid was quoted by AFX as saying. 

The Swiss company acquired 96.1% of Stollwerck shares in August 2002 through its German subsidiary Van Houten Beteiligungs, which issued a mandatory public offer to buy the remaining shares of minority shareholders. Following the expiration of the offer, Van Houten holds 98.66% of the share capital and has submitted a proposal to the remaining minority shareholders, offering to give them cash compensation so that the shares can be delisted.