Weight Watchers Intl starts Dutch tender offer

Weight Watchers International starts modified Dutch tender offer for up to $720M of stock

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- Weight Watchers International Inc. is starting a modified Dutch tender offer for up to $720 million of its stock.

A "Dutch auction" offer allows shareholders to say how many shares they want to tender and at what price within the specified range.

The weight loss company said Thursday that the stock will be purchased for no less than $72 per share and no more than $83 per share. All shares to be purchased by Weight Watchers will be bought at the same price.

Weight Watchers said it will reserve the right to buy up to an additional 2 percent of the outstanding shares without amending or extending the tender offer.

Majority shareholder Artal Holdings has agreed not to tender any shares in the offer.

Weight Watchers plans to fund the purchases, along with the previously announced related buyback from Artal, with new borrowings under an amended and extended version of existing credit facilities. The facilities are currently being negotiated and expected to be in place at least five days before the tender offer expires.

The tender offer expires on March 22, unless extended.

Last week Weight Watchers reported that its fourth-quarter profit rose 30 percent as its online business grew.

Shares of Weight Watchers, which is based in New York, gained $1.28 to $79.99 in morning trading. The stock has changed hands between $51.28 and $86.97 in the past 52 weeks.

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