BET steps up Rentokil battle

RUSSELL HOTTEN

BET, the industrial services group, yesterday stepped up the battle against Rentokil's pounds 1.9bn bid with an attack on its rival's relationship with majority shareholder Sophus Berendsen.

In its first defence document, posted last night, BET forecast a 5.1p dividend, up 27.5 per cent on the previous year. A profit forecast for the year to 30 March will follow. The document also highlighted what it called a potential conflict of interest between Rentokil and Berendsen, the Danish company which owns 52-per cent of Rentokil.

Rentokil has said it plans to develop BET's Initial cleaning division, but yesterday's document claims this will bring it into direct competition with Berendsen's own operations.

"Would Sophus Berendsen continue to be represented on the Rentokil board if Rentokil were to acquire BET?" the document asks. "How could Sophus Berendsen participate in discussions about textile rental?"

BET also claims Berendsen, whose Rentokil stake would be diluted to about 35 per cent if the takeover succeeds, backs the bid because it wants the flexibility to reduce its stake further.

There was confusion on Friday about Berendsen's long-term intention after reports in Denmark that it planned to sell a further 10 per cent in Rentokil. Rentokil said that Berendsen's chief executive, Hans Werdelin, had been misquoted.

The document sought to spell out how BET had been turned around under its chief executive, John Clark. It said earnings had risen by more than 25 percent in the 18 months to 30 September 1995 and had recently grown substantially faster than those of Rentokil. This clear strategy contrasted sharply with the blurred focus of Rentokil's diversification efforts, it said.

BET has been restructured after a 1980s spending spree left it with high debts and a sprawling collection of interests. The company said it had been transformed into a group which was debt-free, tightly controlled and strategically focused.

Sir Christopher Harding, BET chairman, said directors had no hesitation in recommending rejection of the offer.

Rentokil's chief executive, Clive Thompson, said: "We are studying the BET document, in the same way as BET shareholders, in the search for new information. So far this is proving difficult."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Foreign Exchange Dealer - OTE £40,000+

£16000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Foreign Exchange Dealer is re...

SThree: Experienced Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £40000 per annum + OTE + Incentives + Benefits: SThree: Established f...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40/45k + INCENTIVES + BENEFITS: SThree: The su...

Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea