Cowie bid falls foul of Panel yet again

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The Independent Online
THE aggressive pounds 32m takeover bid by T Cowie for Henlys, a rival car dealer, has fallen foul of the Takeover Panel for a third time. City sources say further admonishment could be dealt out this week, writes John Shepherd.

Cowie, based in Sunderland, yesterday had to dissociate itself from two remarks carried in an article on Friday in the Financial Times. A comment by Gordon Hodgson, chief executive of Cowie, appeared to endorse profit forecasts made by analysts for the two companies.

The company said it wished to make clear it was not endorsing these estimates. It also withdrew Mr Hodgson's personal thoughts about Cowie's share price performance during the bid. Sources close to the bid say that Noble Grossart, financial advisers to Cowie, had sent a circular to Henlys' shareholders, withdrawing five claims made last week along with the company's increased and final offer.

Cowie and Henlys declined to comment on any matters relating to the Panel, which also remained silent.

However, it is believed to have asked Cowie to send a letter to Henlys' shareholders to clarify certain parts of the offer document. These include a bar chart of comparative net assets, comments on Henlys' ability to pay dividends and two graphs about Henlys' share price performance.