Amey's anger at share `inflation'

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The Independent Online
AMEY, the construction group which is stalking Servisair, has complained to the Takeover Panel accusing the airport services group of issuing statements that could artificially inflate its share price.

The complaint by Amey, which launched an pounds 81.5m hostile bid for the company last month, centres on the revelation that Stephen Walls, one of Servisair's directors, is connected to a potential counterbidder - believed to be the venture capitalist Compass.

Amey and the Takeover Panel refused to comment yesterday. However, it is understood that Amey told the Panel that the statement, made in Servisair's defence document, could lead to a "false market" in the shares of the ground handling group. According to insiders, Amey is concerned that market hopes of a higher offer from another suitor could push the Servisair shares artificially higher. But the sources said there was no suggestion that Servisair was deliberately trying to increase its share price. The stock has risen 2.5p to 221p, against Amey's 200p per share offer, since the publication of the defence document.

Amey is believed to have asked the Panel to put pressure on Servisair and Compass to declare their hands with an official stock exchange announcement. It also wants the Servisair chairman John Willis to clarify remarks made to newspapers that there were "more than two" potential bidders for the company.