BICC complains to Takeover Panel

BICC, the struggling construction-to-cables group under attack from Wassall, the aggressive investment vehicle, has complained to the Takeover Panel about its suitor's failure to launch a formal bid.

BICC is understood to have told the City regulator that Wassall's decision to table a pounds 379m informal offer is damaging the company and its shareholders.

BICC, which rebuffed Wassall's 90p-a-share approach earlier this month, has urged the panel to put pressure on Wassall to clarify its intentions as soon as possible to end the uncertainty over its future.

The company, which owns a cable business and the construction group Balfour Beatty, maintains that the doubts over whether Wassall will raise its offer or launch a hostile bid are diverting the management's attention from the day-to-day running of the business.

An insider said: "We continue to encourage the Takeover Panel to force Wassall to clarify what the hell it is up to. Why should the company be left under siege for a prolonged period?"

Wassall, an acquisitive investment group with interests ranging from bottle tops to light fittings, could reveal its hand this week after completing talks with BICC's large shareholders.

The company's chief executive, Chris Miller, has spent the last two weeks meeting with major investors in BICC, which include the US fund managers Franklin Resources and Capital and the UK institutions Schroders, Phillips & Drew and Prudential.

Analysts believe that Wassall will have to bid at least pounds 500m to win control of BICC, which last year had sales of pounds 3.9bn but lost pounds 94m.

The company suffered a slump in profits and in its share price due to a downturn in the cables market.

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