Blair makes call for Vodafone

PM presses German Chancellor over bid for Mannesmann

TONY BLAIR last night asked the German Chancellor, Gerhard Schroder, to tone down his anti-Vodafone rhetoric in an attempt to defuse the growing political row over the UK company's bid for Mannesmann.

The Prime Minister made the request at a dinner in Florence The previous day, Mr Schroder criticised Vodafone's pounds 77bn bid, echoing the stern resistance from Mannesmann and union leaders to the record-breaking hostile bid .

Mr Schroder said on Friday: "Hostile takeovers destroy a company's culture. They harm the target but also the predator itself in the medium term. I much prefer French-German co-operation because it is amicable."

The comments have angered both political and business leaders as they reinforce the idea that Europe is anti-British.

Chris Gent, chief executive of Vodafone, has been keeping the Prime Minister informed of the progress of the bid. At a breakfast meeting last week, Mr Blair gave Mr Gent his full backing for the bid.

But that has put Britain on a collision course with Germany, which remains reluctant to countenance foreign ownership of domestic companies even though two of Britain's mobile phone companies - Orange and One2One - have succumbed to German bids this year. No German company has ever been taken over as a result of a hostile foreign bid.

Although Vodafone has insisted that no jobs will be lost should its bid succeed, Mr Schroder remains acutely aware of the fears of German unions. Demonstrations against the bid took place in Mannesmann's home town of Dusseldorf on Friday, where 800 workers protested against Vodafone's move. Mannesmann has denied that it is behind the demonstrations, maintaining that its fate should be decided by shareholders.

Calls for the Prime Minister's intervention came as Vodafone stepped up its campaign to convince Mannesmann shareholders to accept its pounds 77bn bid even though the company's board has rejected the deal.

Mr Gent is arguing that Vodafone and Mannesmann represent an ideal strategic fit and would create a company with formidable strength in the mobile phone markets of the UK, Germany, France and Italy. Mr Gent is hopeful of winning the support of the 30 per cent of the company controlled by investors who also own shares in Vodafone.

However, a significant minority of Mannesmann shares are in bearer form, making it very difficult for Vodafone to track down and lobby their owners. Vodafone is planning to press its case with an advertising campaign in the German press, although the notices are expected to be low-key at first.

German institutional invest-ors have reacted cautiously to Vodafone' approach so far. Both Hypovereinsbank of Munich and Frankfurt's Commerzbank have recommended investors decide for themselves. Mannesmann shares fell 7 per cent to 193.1 euros on Friday, indicating growing domestic scepticism over Vodafone's chances.

Matthias Trimm, a fund manager at DWS Investment in Frankfurt, said: "The offer isn't high enough. It will be a challenge for Vodafone to get a majority of shareholders to support this bid." A Mannesmann spokesman said: "We are confident that our defence strategy will be successful."

Mannesmann chairman Klaus Esser has spent the weekend with his advisers to finalise the German group's defence strategy. He will argue that the bid does not adequately reflect the value of Mannesmann, whose shares have rocketed in the last few years thanks to the boom in European telecoms.

Mannesmann has denied that it is seeking a "white knight" .

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
booksPhotographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years - but he says it wasn’t all fun and games...
News
i100
Sport
Aguero - who single-handedly has kept City's Champions League dreams alive - celebrates his dramatic late winner
footballManchester City 3 Bayern Munich 2: Argentine's late hat-rick sees home side snatch vital victory
News
Muhammad Ali pictured in better health in 2006
peopleBut he has enjoyed publicity from his alleged near-death experience
Arts and Entertainment
Tony breaks into Ian Garrett's yacht and makes a shocking discovery
TVReview: Revelations continue to make this drama a tough watch
News
news
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
peopleSinger tells The Independent what life is like in rehab in an exclusive video interview
News
The assumption that women are not as competent in leadership positions as men are leads to increased stress in the workplace
science... and it's down to gender stereotypes
Arts and Entertainment
Inner sanctum: Tove Jansson and friends in her studio in 1992
booksWhat was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Singer songwriter Bob Dylan performs on stage
films
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Citifocus Ltd: Product Development - Asset Management

£Attractive: Citifocus Ltd: High calibre individual with significant product d...

Citifocus Ltd: Credit Ratings - Banking Sector

£Negotiable: Citifocus Ltd: Leading global bank seeks experienced credit analy...

Citifocus Ltd: Economic Crime Investigation & Analysis

£Attractive Package: Citifocus Ltd: High calibre individual with a high degree...

Citifocus Ltd: Snr Risk Analyst - Capital & Liquidity

£Attractive: Citifocus Ltd: High calibre individual with superior academics an...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital