German property giants confirm failed merger

Germany’s top property group Vonovia confirmed on Monday that its 19-billion-euro takeover bid of rival Deutsche Wohnen had collapsed because of limited interest from shareholders.

The group released a statement confirming an announcement on Friday that owners of just 47.62 percent of Deutsche Wohnen shares had agreed to the proposed deal, below the 50-percent threshold needed.

Deutsche Wohnen shares rose by 1.37 percent to 51.82 euros ($61.08) on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, while Vonovia shares fell by 3.23 percent to 55.76 euros. 

A merger between Vonovia and Deutsche Wohnen would have given birth to Europe’s largest real estate group with more than 500,000 properties. 

Vonovia had previously made Deutsche Wohnen an offer in 2016, but it was rejected by shareholders who also felt the price was too low.

This time, Vonovia offered 52 euros in cash per Deutsche Wohnen share, plus a 1.03 euro dividend per share for the 2020 financial year.

In Germany, where a majority of residents are renters, Deutsche Wohnen and Vonovia play a premier role in the housing sector. 

The companies promised in May that should the deal go ahead, they would limit rent increases until 2026 and build new apartments in Berlin, which has suffered for years from runaway rents and a lack of affordable housing.

Vonovia said Friday the promise would still apply even if the deal did not go ahead.

“Vonovia continues to view the combination of the two companies as strategically compelling,” it added.