Americans snap up further 3.2% of Sweb

Southern Electric International of the US scooped up a further 3.2 per cent of South Western Electricity in the market yesterday at an estimated cost of up to pounds 32m. The move - unusual at this stage in a hostile bid - brings SEI's stake in its target to 14.4 per cent.

SEI's pounds 9a-share offer for Sweb, valuing the company at pounds 1bn, was launched on 13 July after a dawn raid in which the US group bought 11.2 per cent of the shares, also at pounds 9 a share.

Investors are thought to have sold yesterday on continued speculation that this or any other bid in the sector might be referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission.

In a document issued yesterday, Professor Stephen Littlechild the industry regulator, warned that mergers and acquisitions could have implications for competition, protection of consumers and his ability to regulate. He is consulting on Sweb and two other bids in the sector: a pounds 1bn hostile takeover attempt by Scottish Power for Manweb and an agreed pounds 2.5bn offer by Hanson for Eastern Electricity, announced on Monday.

Sweb's share price fell 6p to close last night at 899p while Manweb's was down 7p at 868p. Eastern Electricity shares edged down a penny to 908p.

Professor Littlechild said that, in relation to the Hanson bid, "in my view additional measures would be necessary to provide continued protection to customers and to maintain regulatory effectiveness". He has asked for comments from interested parties by 11 August.

The Hanson takeover of Eastern is conditional on the bid not being referred by the Government to the MMC and on "indications" from Professor Littlechild that he will not impose unwanted licence changes on Eastern or "seek undertakings" from the company.

The regulator had called for an earlier bid for Northern Electric by Trafalgar House to be referred to the MMC but was subsequently overruled by Michael Heseltine, then President of the Board of Trade.

On Monday, Professor Littlechild said he would look for "binding undertakings" from the group that he would be given all the information he needed to regulate the core electricity businesses effectively.

He also said he wanted guarantees of ring-fencing of the core business and separate accounting, as well as assurances that adequate resources would be made available to the supply and distribution arms.

In a separate development, small investors in Manweb hit out against the attack by Scottish Power, voting against changes in the company's articles that limit any shareholder from holding more than 15 per cent of the company.

The "inconclusive" show of hands at the annual meeting forced management into a poll, but the change was carried by the millions of proxy votes held by the board.

John Roberts, Manweb's chief executive, said the company did not need to hide behind a15 per cent limit to fend off the pounds 9.15-a-share bid. But he viewed the rebellion as a "tremendous" show of support.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Arts and Entertainment
Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
tvBut Bianca Miller has taken on board his comments over pricing
News
in picturesWounded and mangy husky puppy rescued from dump
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operations Manager

£43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - LONDON

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'