Danish buyer looks at BET divisions

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The Independent Online
ISS, one of Europe's largest industrial services businesses, has emerged as a front-runner to buy BET divisions that are likely to be sold as part of the pounds 1.8bn bid battle with Rentokil.

Although BET has played down reports of a pounds 300m disposal programme as a defence against Rentokil, the embattled company is still expected to accelerate plans to reduce the number of operations.

ISS has cast its eye over several BET businesses, and has also been in contact with Rentokil, which has hinted that a number of BET divisions would be put on the market if its takeover succeeds.

One source said that ISS was interested in buying BET's low-margin cleaning business, and was particularly interested in building up operations in Asia.

ISS, like Rentokil's 52-per cent shareholder Sophus Berendsen, is a Danish company with worldwide interests, and employs 130,000 people.

An ISS spokesman refused to comment on any talks with BET, but confirmed that the company would be watching to see what parts of the UK company came on the market.

Some reports have said that BET may follow Forte's strategy against Granada and begin a round of disposals. BET said yesterday that the company's operations had been reduced from 130 to 60 and that this process would continue.

Further details of disposals may be unveiled in BET's defence document, which will not be published until Rentokil posts its offer document, expected early next week.