City File: The predators are circling Pentos

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TERRY Maher's Dillons looks set to lose its independence as a number of rival predators circle the troubled Pentos stores group. Kingfisher is believed to have looked long and hard at buying the Dillons book chain, but seems more interested in acquisitions abroad.

Then there is John Menzies, thought to have teamed up with another bookselling group, to bid for the whole company. Even Tim Waterstone is said to be interested, although he would run up against competition agreements fixed when he sold his book chain to WH Smith. Outsiders include the German group Bertelsmann.

Mr Maher, the Pentos chairman, will not comment on market rumours, though analysts think he has cause to worry. Shares rose 5p last week to 46p, valuing the company at pounds 65m, pounds 14m below its asset value.