The Topps Company, maker of Bazooka bubble gum, said yesterday (6 March) that it was in the process of accepting a US$385.4m takeover bid. However, a Topps director has joined forces with a major shareholder in an attempt to derail the deal.

The offer comes from a consortium including former Disney CEO Michael Eisner, and was approved by a 7-3 vote by the Topps board. The buyout group, which includes The Tornante Company, founded by Eisner, and private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners, has agreed to pay $9.75 for each Topps share, which represents a premium of 9.4% over the stock’s closing pricing of $8.91 on Monday (5 March).

But director Arnaud Aidler, who was joined by fellow board members Timothy Brog and John Jones in voting ‘no’ to the proposal, is attempting to block the deal alongside investment firm Crescendo Partners. Crescendo owns a 6.6% stake in the company.

According to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Aidler maintains the negotiations did not go through the proper process and that the offer undervalues the company. It is therefore “not in the best interests of the company’s shareholders and does not maximise shareholder value,” the SEC filing concluded.

Following the news, Topps shares rose 10.1% to trade at $9.81 on the New York Stock Exchange, signalling that investors believe the buyout group could be persuaded to up its offer.

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