City goes on full bid alert: Conglomerate expected to pounce before Christmas as market confidence improves

THE CITY is expecting a big takeover bid before Christmas.

With share prices predicted to rise still further early next year ahead of the onset of economic recovery, there is a strong feeling that a big company will make a move in the next few weeks. Most eyes are on the acquisitive conglomerates: Williams, BTR and Hanson. GEC is also in the frame.

Williams, headed by Nigel Rudd, is tipped to emerge as a friendly bidder for Evode, the Evo- stick group fending off a pounds 100m assault from Wassall, the industrial conglomerate. Chris Miller, Wassall's chief executive, questioned the sudden appearance of Wasserstein Perella, the aggressive US investment bank, as an Evode adviser alongside Morgan Grenfell.

'Wasserstein are not noted for giving corporate finance advice of a traditional variety, but rather as experts in leveraged buyouts, finding white knights and breaking up companies,' he said. 'Perhaps this is a sign that Evode's board has already given up on the idea of staying independent.'

An Evode spokesman said Wasserstein Perella was involved because of the company's substantial US interests, and that it was perfectly normal for a company to take advice from more than one bank in the course of a bid.

Andrew Mitchell of Smith New Court said a move from Williams, either for Evode or another - much bigger - target, was likely. However, he added that a much-touted attack on Lucas was unlikely. 'Williams prides itself on opportunism.'

Speculation about a BTR bid for Lucas refuses to die, despite a rise in the aerospace engineer's share price in the last few weeks. But sources close to BTR were trying to dampen the rumours last week - possibly because they were genuinely wrong or because it was trying to depress the share price.

When Smith New Court detailed BTR's likely next bid target last year, it named CMB, the former Metal Box packaging group, as number one, followed by Hawker Siddeley and Lucas. In the end, Hawker Siddeley was snapped up.

Alan Jackson, BTR's chief executive, has expressed a preference for a manufacturing business, which appears to rule out a bid for Tarmac, the troubled construction and materials group.

Hanson is known to have eyed Tarmac, but it already owns London Brick and a large aggregates business, so a bid would inevitably pose competition problems.

After failing to acquire Ranks Hovis McDougall, Hanson insiders say the group is keen to bounce back. The food sector, where ratings remain low, may again be the hunting ground.

As British Aerospace continues to languish in the doldrums, one suggestion is that GEC, which relies on the engineering giant for a big slice of its business, could finally lose patience and make a decisive move.

Whatever happens, there should be some seasonal cheer for speculators starved of activity.

(Photograph omitted)

Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
football
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
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

Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Market Risk & Control Manager

Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Head of Audit

To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam