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Greenalls wins approval for takeover of Devenish

GREENALLS, the north-western public house operator, has won the go-ahead from its shareholders to pay a total of pounds 250m for the regional brewer and publican JA Devenish, writes Robert Cole.

A threatened institutional shareholder revolt seemed not to materialise, although Greenall's refusal to publish details of the vote count left some doubt about the level of approval for the deal.

A spokesman for the company said: 'A unanimous vote in the meeting was backed by the vast majority of proxy votes sent.' On advice from Schroder, Greenall's merchant bank, details of abstentions and votes cast against the deal were kept secret.

Earlier this week several institutional fund managers spoke privately of their unhappiness at the proposed takeover. It is an agreed deal which, including the assumption of debt, represents about 25 times Devenish's post-tax earnings for the 12 months to 30 September.

In 1989 Mercury Asset Management vociferously opposed Boots' pounds 900m takeover of Ward White - the Halfords and Payless do-it-yourself retail chain that has proved to be a drag on profits since.

Greenalls' shares rose 3p to 352p.