Decision on Lloyds C&G bid delayed

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A HIGH Court decision on Lloyds Bank's pounds 1.8bn bid for Cheltenham & Gloucester Building Society has been held back until after market hours tomorrow following concern about the possibility of insider trading, writes Peter Rodgers.

Counsel for Lloyds and C&G are understood to have told Sir Donald Nicolls, the Vice-Chancellor, that releasing his judgment during market hours could cause problems because investors might not all learn at the same time. The concerns emerged from the companies' advisers, Barings for Lloyds and JP Morgan for C&G.

They pointed out that anybody who attended the court to hear the judgment could know the decision before it was announced to the Stock Exchange and investors generally. Although mobile telephones are not allowed in court, there are public telephones in the building.

Sources close to the bid said advisers were alarmed by cases such as a US incident in which an analyst who telephoned news from a company's annual meeting before it had been officially announced was caught up in an insider trading case.

The judgment is now expected at 5.15 pm and could take 45 minutes for the judge to read. The impact on Lloyds' share price from the decision could be substantial.