FINDLAY, Ohio — Sometimes one's first marriage proposal doesn't always work out. Such was the case with Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.'s previous suitor, Apollo Tyres Ltd., which proposed a $2.5 billion merger of the two companies in June 2013, until Cooper terminated the agreement six months later.
Cooper had said it was courting at least one other interested unnamed suitor up until June 11, 2013, the day its board of directors accepted Apollo's buyout offer of $35 a share.
Apollo's interest in merging with or buying Cooper dated back at least to mid-2011, and throughout the 10 months prior to accepting Apollo's offer, Cooper said it had approached and/or held discussions with as many as 10 possible other suitors (including Taiwan's Kenda Rubber Industrial Co. Ltd. and two other unnamed tire makers) to gauge their interest level.
At the time, the proposed merger of Apollo (the 16th largest tire maker) and Cooper (11th largest) would have created an entity with roughly $6.6 billion in annual sales — good for a No. 7 world ranking at the time — and manufacturing at 14 plants in eight countries.
The companies touted the deal as combining complementary brands, geographic presence and technological expertise.
But some industry analysts viewed the acquisition as "overambitious" and "risky," based on the amount of debt Apollo would incur. Shareholders apparently agreed as Apollo's shares dropped 25% the day the deal was announced.
Then in August 2013, more than 5,000 workers at Cooper Tire's joint venture plant in Rongcheng, China, went on strike to protest the Apollo takeover. At the time, Cooper owned 65% of the venture with China's Chengshan Group.