Great Southern takeover cleared: Dismissal of rival bidder's objections leaves way clear for SCI

THE Takeover Panel yesterday waved through SCI's 775p-a-share offer for the funeral group Great Southern, dismissing an appeal from the Canadian group Loewen that the bid should be disallowed on a legal technicality.

Loewen, which was asked by Great Southern last week to act as a white knight, argued that SCI should not have been allowed to raise its offer from 680p because that bid had been declared final.

It also argued that a competitive situation had not arisen because no rival offer had been tabled.

The panel ruled that the announcement that Great Southern was in talks with a third party constituted a competitive situation. It also accepted that the omission of a crucial qualification to SCI's final offer should not invalidate the increased bid.

In a Stock Exchange announcement after the raising of SCI's original bid from 600p to 680p, the qualification that the Texan group could come back with a higher offer if a competitive situation emerged was left out, although it later appeared in the official offer document.

The panel gave weight to the fact that SCI agreed to compensate shareholders who accepted the 680p offer on the assumption that no increase would be possible.

It is understood that SCI's advisers, the merchant bank Schroders and the law firm Linklaters & Paines, will pay the estimated pounds 3.7m of compensation.

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