Court delays Glaxo's final move

Wellcome, the drugs firm under siege from Glaxo in a £9bn bid, yesterday gained an extra few days breathing space to continue its search for a white knight.

The tactical advantage emerged after the Wellcome Trust gained High Court clearance to sell to Glaxo its near 40 per cent stake in the company.

The court decision seals Wellcome's fate unless a counter-bidder emerges to top Glaxo's offer, or the US or European competition authorities object, which is thought unlikely.

The Glaxo camp has been dismissive about the possibility of a white knight because there has been no announcement of talks - which would be necessary as soon as contacts developed to a serious stage.

Wellcome sources insisted that far from turning the bid into a walkover, the court had breathed new life into the search for a white knight. The company is treading a fine line between making contacts and opening negotiations, which would prompt an announcement and force Wellcome to hand confidential documentation to Glaxo.

Wellcome did not oppose the trust's request for court permission to dispose of its shares - necessary because of the legal relationship between the trust and the company - but joined the action to loosen the terms of the sale between Glaxo and the trust. As a result, the court extended the date on which the trust's undertaking to sell becomes binding by eight days, from 28 February to 8 March.

This brings the key date in line with US takeover rules, under which the March date is the end of the formal offer period. The court also agreed to changes in the small print of the deal, making it easier for the trust to back out. The contract, under which the trust agreed to sell to Glaxo after 28 February, was claimed to be a deterrent to any counterbidder showing its hand after the formal offer period expired.

James Lupton of Wellcome's adviser, Barings, said "The trust will have better withdrawal rights if an improved offer comes later on, after 8 March."

Glaxo said "We are happy with the decision, and the ruling that the trust can sell all or part of its holding to Glaxo. Another condition of the offer has been met." Wellcome shares rose 5p to 1028p.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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

Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operations Manager

£43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - LONDON

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there