Break for the Border fends off pounds 18.46m Read bid

BREAK FOR the Border, the UK bar and restaurants group, will today change its name to Capital Bars and obtain a secondary listing on the Dublin stock exchange, having successfully fended off a pounds 18.46m takeover by Ireland's Thomas Read Holdings.

The UK company yesterday persuaded its major shareholders to back its expansion into Ireland rather than accept Thomas Read's third and final pre-conditional cash offer, which was raised to 55p a share yesterday after Break for the Border's board decided to reject the 50p offer made on Friday. The revised offer was at a premium of 36 per cent to Break for the Border's closing price on Friday.

A Break for the Border spokesman said: "We are victorious. Our institutions saw that a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush." Thomas Read said it would not bid again for the group. A spokesman said: "Hugh O'Regan [the group's major shareholder] is disappointed as he believes that 55p a share was a serious proposal and Break for the Border shareholders should have been given the opportunity to consider our approach in more detail."

Break for the Border delayed its egm, scheduled for 11am yesterday, to consult with its advisers and institutional shareholders on the revised bid; adjourning the egm was a condition of the offer. It is thought that some major shareholders were initially in favour of accepting Thomas Read's takeover proposals. But the meeting was later reconvened and shareholders voted to approve Break for the Border's pounds 14.63m acquisition of six bars and two hotels in Dublin.

Liam O'Dwyer, part-owner of the Dublin outlets, will today become chief executive of the enlarged group. Thomas Read is a private, Dublin-based operator of 20 pubs and the Morrison Hotel. Break for the Border shares closed up 1p at 41.5p yesterday.

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