Evans Halshaw soars on bid approach

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SHARES IN the car dealership Evans Halshaw, which has 64 Ford, Vauxhall and Audi franchises, soared yesterday on hopes of a pounds 70m-plus takeover bid. Potential bidders include the American group Republic and British dealerships Pendragon and Sanderson Bramall Motor Group.

Evans Halshaw shares rose 50p to 211.5p on confirmation that the company had received an approach "which may or may not lead to a recommended offer being made for the company at a premium to the current share price".

Analysts speculated last night that the company had probably received more than one approach and that the chairman, Alan Smith, formerly with the brewer Boddingtons, is almost certain to recommend a deal.

Evans Halshaw, which has annual sales of around pounds 800m and is expected to make pre-tax profits of pounds 14m this year, has been affected by the general economic downturn which has led to a collapse in consumer confidence.

UK car dealerships such as Evans Halshaw are also struggling against a backdrop of increasing consolidation in the sector and the move by manufacturers, including Ford, to take direct stakes in the dealerships selling their car models.

In September Evans Halshaw reported that trading could be difficult in the second half of its year, which prompted analysts to downgrade their forecasts for the current year to the pounds 14m level.

Evans Halshaw shares have fallen from around 300p earlier this year.