Dale replies to attack by Littlewoods chief

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The Independent Online
CHRIS BLACKHURST

Barry Dale, former chief executive of Littlewoods and would-be bidder for the football pools, mail order and stores group, has hit back at an attack on him by Leonard van Geest, company chairman and his former boss.

After Mr van Geest wrote to members of the Moores family who own all the ordinary shares in the Liverpool-based group criticising his plans for a pounds 1.2bn takeover bid, Mr Dale and his advisers have responded in kind. In a letter dated 8 November to the Moores,Dawnay Day, Mr Dale's corporate finance advisers, say:"This proposal could result in ordinary and 'C' preferred shareholders receiving cash of over 70 per cent more than the price paid last November on the share repurchase ... "

Mr Dale's proposal values the ordinary shares at 848p each and 'C' preferred shares at 189p each. "This represents a total of pounds 11,221 for a holding of 1,000 ordinary shares and 1,450 'C' preferred shares, compared with a total of pounds 6,450 which you would have received if you had sold such shares to the company as part of the share repurchase," the letter says.

In his letter to the 34 remaining family members who own shares, Mr van Geest - who is not a Moores nor a shareholder - questioned the commitment of Mr Dale's potential backers, who include Legal & General, Electra, Apax, Prudential, Deutsche Morgan Grenfell, Fuji and Chemical Bank. All of them, write Dawnay Day, "have confirmed their interest in backing [Mr Dale] to acquire Littlewoods".

Mr van Geest's criticism that Mr Dale has not put his money where his mouth is by making a firm bid pending being allowed to examine the company's books, is also dealt with. Dawnay Day argues that, as the most recent published financial information by Littlewoods is its accounts for the year ending 31 December 1994, and therefore 11 months old, "it is understandable for [Mr Dale] to require additional information before making a firm offer." However, they stress, due diligence would not take long and a firm offer would soon follow.

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