Monthly Archives: June 2019

Metro take over – quick assesment

After reading “Merger Masters” I decided to practice my new found knowledge a little bit and apply it to Metro. My long time readers know that I bought Metro as a spin-off and exited with a pretty painful loss.

The Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky, who became Metro shareholder a year ago, made a voluntary offer of 16 EUR per Metro common share and 13,80 EUR per pref share. Little is known how Kretinsky actually became a bilionaire, as he is now only 45 years old. Maybe it helped that he married the daughter of another Czech billionaire, Petr Keller. Some call him a Czech “oligarch”. Up until now, he mostly invested in the energy space, most notably buying coal assets in Germany.


Metro Management has already rejected the offer as too low, so the deal is clearly a “hostile” one.

From the Merger Masters book, I use the initial checklist to quickly assess the opportunity:

  1. What is the srpead ? What is the annualized return ?
    –> 0%, stock price trades at offer price at the time of writingm the pref share even above the offer price
  2. What are the regulatory issues/hurdles
    –> Most likely no big hurdles. Acquirer is not active in this industryy
  3. What are the conditions of the agreement
    –> unlcear. Unspecified “Minimum acceptance” level
  4. What is the strategic rational of the deal
    –> unclear. Buyer has no experience in retail. Most likely “opportunistic” and/or real estate driven
  5. What is the downside if the deal breaks ?
    –> – 10 to -15% (my estimate)

So based on this first assesment, the situation doesn’t look very interesting. For a hostile deal one should expect some sort of premium which doesn’t exist. The major issue is clearly that there is little information about the acquirer and his motives.

On the other side, the market seems to expect clearly a higher bid, otherwise the current price makes no sense. However I cannot think of any other bidder for Metro but maybe I am wrong.

So my assesment here is clear: At this price the risk/return profile for Metro is not worth it and I’ll pass.

P.S.: Does any reader know how the current legal situation is for German Prefs ? WIll an acquirer need to pay the same price as for the common shares



Book review: “Merger Masters – Tales of Arbitrage”

Merger Masters, written by Kate Welling and supported by Mario Gabelli is a book similar to Jack Schwagers “Market Wizards” series, portraying some famous investors.

In this case the focus is on investors who are active mostly in the Merger Arbitrage Business, Some guys are very well known like John Paulson, Paul Singer or guy Wyser-Pratte but from other guys, who keep a low profile, most invetsors might have never heard of.

Personally I wish this book would have been written long ago and that I head read it long ago. It really offeres a very comprehensive view into this relatively arcane world of arbitrage investing with some very suprising insights.

It is also clear that there is not ONE recipe to be successful as an Arb. For instance the question on when to sell when a deal breaks divides these guys into two groups: Some of them say the only way is to sell directly after the news whereas others say that you should never sell directly but wait for a better price. Other notable differences are levels of concentration, use of leverage and if hostile deals are part of the universe or not.

I was also surprised on the depth of fundamental analysis that most of these guys seem to be doing before entering into a deal, at least they claim to do so.

What makes the book really special and even better than the Market Wizard series is the fact that there is also space for the “other side”, CEOs who have fought the Arbs in hostile deals an ultimately won. Most interesting was the story about the take over attempt of Airgas by Air Products which is described in very good detail and how Airgas Managment ultimately won although the odds were highly against them.

The content is clearly US centric, however I think most of the mentioned rules etc. can be applied internationally.


Overall, the book is extremely well written and offers a unique deep insight into the M&A arbitrage world. There is a lot of content in the book and I think I have to read it at least a second time to digest all of it.

Overall I can recommend the book highly to any investor, because sooner or later one will be involved in such a situation. For “special situation” investors this book is a MUST. For me clearly one of the best investment books that I have ever read.

Update & Kanam Grundinvest

Kanam Grundinvest

Kanam Grundinvest was a special situation liquidation investment I made around 2 years ago. After 2 years, the position returned ~13,5% and is therefore on the upper range of my estimated return range from 4-8% p.a.. From the initial purchase price of around 16,17 EUR/unit I received back ~ 9,50 EUR in tax free distributions, resulting in a 2,5% remaining portfolio position.

However the current price of the units at ~8.85 EUR is very close to the intrinsic value of 9,24 EUR. So there is not that much juice left and Warburg will not liquidate super fast as they keep earning their fees as long this vehicle exists.

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Update Handelsbanken – HOLD

Handelsbanken Update:

2018 was on the surface a solid year for Handelsbanken. According to the 2018 annual report, operating profit increased by +5% and net income by +8%, top line by +5%. ROE was 12,8% which is below my assumed 15% but still a remarkably good number for a large bank.

Just looking at the bottom line, the first quarter of Handelsbanken looks great:  Net income up +19%, operating profit up +18%. However top line only grew at +4% (vs. Q1 2018).

However this is solely a function of the fact that the bank reversed their provision into the Oktogonen pension fund for employees which they clearly state in the quarterly report:

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Some links

Interesting anual report from the “Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust” which, despite its name is a successful tech/growth fund (from page 11, h/t Monevator)

A wide ranging update from yetanothervalueblog

Blackrock is creating a “forever” PE fund

The number of job postings seems to be a short term leading indicator for the performance of Tech IPO stocks

A great collection of spin-off related links

Farnam Street blog on Jeff Bezos