Bid talk envelops Brierley

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The Independent Online
RUMOURS OF a takeover bid swirled around New Zealand-based Brierley Investments Limited (BIL) yesterday after the collapse of a deal to sell Thistle, the UK hotel group in which BIL has its biggest single investment, Reuters reports.

Malaysia-based Camerlin Group yesterday sought a meeting of other Brierley shareholders to consider the removal from the board of its executive chairman, Sir Roger Douglas. Financial sector sources soon began talking of a likely bid.

Sir Roger demanded that Camerlin reveal its intentions and chided the timing its attack within a few days of a vital board meeting. Camerlin could not be reached for comment.

Sir Roger accepted that the Thistle deal's failure was disappointing, but said it had been a victim of market conditions and the circumstances of the bidder, widely reported to be the Japanese finance house Nomura. "The simple fact is that there was not an offer that the directors of Thistle and BIL could accept," he said.

One source said Camerlin's impatience with BIL was heightened by a book valuation of its stake which was equivalent to NZ$1.44 per share.

In July, helped by speculation that its 46 per cent stake in Thistle could raise around NZ$2.1bn (pounds 640m), Brierley shares neared NZ$1.00. However, once the Thistle deal collapsed, BIL slumped to a low of NZ$0.70.

Analysts said the acid test of any move to provoke change in Brierley would be how other major owners reacted.

Brierley's board is to meet on 31 August. Camerlin has two of its eight members, but others include one from the Singapore government, which holds about 10 per cent, and also company founder and longtime boardroom critic Sir Ron Brierley.