Amey in pounds 81m bid for Servisair

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The Independent Online
AMEY, the former construction company which is reinventing itself as a services group, yesterday launched a pounds 81.5m hostile takeover bid for Servisair, the under-fire airport services provider.

Servisair's board immediately rejected the offer as "wholly inadequate", arguing that it failed to reflect the company's true value. Servisair shares, valued at 200p each by Amey's bid, rose 41p to 217.5p as investors anticipated a bidding war for the company.

Servisair has been at the centre of takeover speculation since last month, when it revealed that it had received a number of approaches.

Amey has talked with Servisair directors for the past month in the hope of receiving a recommendation, but lost patience. "It was starting to look more and more like an auction," said Neil Ashley, the chairman.

Analysts said any bidder would have to offer at least 220p a share to succeed. However, fund managers Schroders and Standard Life, which have a 25 per cent stake in Servisair, are also shareholders in Amey.

Graham Roberts, Servisair chief executive, said discussions were continuing with other bidders but refused to name them.

Amey's chief executive, Brian Staples, said Servisair was good at managing its airport operations but had not been as successful at operating as a public company. Under Amey's ownership the company could be reinvigorated. "It's a cracking opportunity," he said.

Amey believes it could make pounds 2.5m of cost savings if it took control of Servisair, although it denied it was planning large-scale job cuts. Servisair's head office, near Manchester, would also be kept open.

Mr Staples said that, as part of Amey, Servisair could cross-sell services to the train companies which are clients of Amey's track maintenance division.