Fireworks yet to come, says Redland chairman

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The Independent Online
Rudolph Agnew, chairman of Redland, the building materials group under siege from a pounds 1.7bn takeover bid by Lafarge of France, shrugged off criticism that his defence document published yesterday was a non- event, saying that the fireworks were yet to come.

The document, which attacked Lafarge's 320p-a-share hostile cash offer as an attempt to get Redland "on the cheap," consisted largely of a dry list of Redland's assets. The document also confirmed that, despite the jump in Redland's share price since Lafarge's bid, none of Redland's directors will make significant sums from the bid.

Mr Agnew, who took the opportunity to launch a withering attack on Bertrand Collomb, Lafarge's chief executive, said that it was important to highlight Redland's businesses: "It reminds shareholders of the value of our assets."

He said he was keeping his powder dry: "You should never reveal your best arguments in the first document."

Mr Agnew played down an earlier statement that Redland has received expressions of interest from a "double digit" number of potential bidders for its aggregates businesses. "We have a lot of suitors, but we don't know yet if they are real or what they have in mind".

Mr Agnew said Redland was in discussions with minority shareholders who own 43.5 per cent of RBB, Redland's German-based roof tiles business. He said the shareholders, the largest of which is the Braas family trust, headed by Redland non-executive director Helly Bruhn-Braas, would "love to buy RBB". However, he said it was a question of "what price and what form any offer would take".

Mr Agnew was scathing about Mr Collomb's comments that the defence was "just jam at some unidentifiable date".

"They've got their quotes all wrong again, poor dears," said Mr Agnew. "Jam is just what shareholders want."

Mr Collomb called the defence "a few vague promises," adding: "Shareholders want cash and there are no alternative offers on the table."

Howard Proctor, analyst at SGST, said Lafarge's offer was "a sighting shot". Others said a white-knight bidder for the whole company was unlikely. Redland's shares closed 9p higher at 340p.

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