Amec to seek new talks

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The Independent Online
RUSSELL HOTTEN

Amec is to seek talks with Kvaerner early in the new year to try to ease tensions after their bitter takeover battle. But the company said further merger talks with rival construction group Alfred McAlpine were unlikely.

Sir Alan Cockshaw, Amec's chairman, yesterday refused to blame Kvaerner for the acrimonious three week fight, saying "the hostilities were not necessarily of their making".

Although he declined to point the finger of blame, Amec is known to have been deeplyunhappy at the strategy used by Kvaerner's adviser, Brian Keelan of SBC Warburg.

Kvaerner's tactics, including making its first offer final, which reduced the bid timetable to 21 days, were seen as very aggressive and drew criticism from one of Amec's institutional shareholders, M&G.

Mr Keelan's role in Hong Kong Land's purchase of a stake in Trafalgar House, and his celebrated run-in with Sir Alastair Morton, gave him a high profile in the city.

There were suggestions yesterday that the failed bid had sparked further discontent among the corporate finance team that came together with the SBC takeover of Warburg.

However, Kvaerner, which said at the start of the bid that hostile takeovers were not its style, was said to have been satisfied. "The client is not grumbling. After all, the bid nearly succeeded," said a spokesman.

Sir Alan said he felt happy with Kvaerner sitting on its 26.1 per cent stake. "They are our largest shareholder and we have got to find a way of working together."

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