Decision on Bass deal soon

Sir Ian Prosser, chairman and chief executive of Bass, said yesterday that he expected a decision on the proposed pounds 200m Carlsberg-Tetley acquisition to be announced by the competition authorities in mid-June.

The deal has been marooned with the Monopolies and Mergers Commission since last year.

The comments came as the company announced a 10 per cent increase in half-year profits to pounds 318m, boosted by strong performances in its Bass Taverns business and the Coral betting shops.

There was also renewed speculation yesterday that Bass might bid for William Hill, the Brent Walker-owned bookmakers, at a price of up to pounds 700m. The company declined to comment.

Bass shares fell 22.5p to 798.5p on fears that it might over-pay as its seeks a deal. There were also concerns over a slowdown in the Holiday Inns hotels business.

Investment column, page 24