Gibbs Mew fights off Brierley bid

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GIBBS MEW has retained its independence. The small family- controlled regional brewer and pub owner yesterday deflated the takeover aspirations of the much larger Brierley Investments of New Zealand.

A shareholders' meeting at the company's Cloisters pub, adjacent to the brewery and Salisbury cathedral, voted for the pounds 2.3m purchase of UK D, a drinks distributor based in London.

Brierley stated last week that its pounds 11m, 200p-per-share bid would lapse if Gibbs acquired UK D. Confirmation that the bid was over was made after the stock market closed.

The meeting lasted less than 30 minutes. Brierley called for a poll of votes after a show of hands voted 23 to four in favour of buying UK D. Three of the four votes against were from Brierley. Votes in favour of the purchase in the poll totalled 3.28 million shares - 60 per cent of the company - with 1.9 million against.

Peter Gibbs, chairman, said later: 'We now have the opportunity to get on and run the business.' He said the family 'provided the fabric and security' that enabled employment at the brewery.

'I have told them (the family) that they have to perform. It is in their hands to improve, and respond to situations.' Gibbs' pre- tax profits have fallen by 66 per cent from the 1989/90 high of pounds 1.88m to pounds 633,000 in the year to the end of March.

The family's direct holding in Gibbs amounts to nearly 50 per cent, which will be diluted slightly by the purchase of UK D. Brierley's stake will also be diluted by about 2 percentage points.

Vendors of UK D are accepting 600,000 shares - equal to 10 per cent of the enlarged capital - as part-payment for their business.