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
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

Ashdown Group: Client Services Manager - Relationship Management - London

£30000 - £32000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Recruitment Genius: Credit Controller / Customer Service

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding business...

Guru Careers: In-House / Internal Recruiter

£25 - 28k + Bonus: Guru Careers: An In-house / Internal Recruiter is needed to...

Recruitment Genius: Tax Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Tax Assistant is required to join a leading ...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project