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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Esser Claims Support

FRANKFURT, Germany -- Mannesmann AG chief executive officer Klaus Esser said Wednesday that he has the support of major institutional stockholders in his campaign to thwart a hostile takeover bid from Britain's Vodafone AirTouch PLC.

Speaking to reporters after wrapping up a nine-day public relations offensive, Esser said he believes shareholders accepted his argument that Mannesmann's strategy is better and that the suitor's bid is too low. But he was unable to say whether they will actually reject Vodafone's $125 billion offer - the largest in history if it goes through.

Esser estimated that he has locked up major institutional investors representing 30 percent of Mannesmann's shares and speculated that support could grow as individual shareholders take the heavyweights' lead.

Esser identified Hong Kong conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. as one of the major shareholders backing him, along with several large investment and pension funds that he did not name.

Mannesmann shares were down 4.2 percent after the press conference, held in D--sseldorf with a teleconferencing tie-in.

Vodafone is expected to extend a formal offer to Mannesmann shareholders in late December.