Ewart receives fifth bid approach in two days

THE acrimonious battle for control of Ewart, the Belfast-based property group, took a bizarre twist yesterday when the company received its fifth bid approach in the space of two days.

The company revealed it was considering a "bona fide approach from a substantial UK listed company" that might lead to a takeover offer. The news came after two rival companies, Moyne and Dunloe House, each put in two bids.

On Monday, Brian O'Connor, Ewart chairman, urged shareholders to accept a 75p-a-share offer from Dunloe House, an Irish property developer. A majority of independent board members then said they had agreed to accept a 79p-a-share offer from Moyne, a shelf company created for the bid by drinks entrepreneur Paul Hunt. The chief executive at one stage threatened to take legal action against Mr O'Connor.

Yesterday Moyne upped its bid to 81p a share, an offer that was matched by Dunloe House.

In a statement, Ewart said the new mystery offer matched the existing offers and would also provide a paper alternative at a "tangibly higher level".