Greene King suffers bid setback

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AN INSTITUTIONAL shareholder commanding 1 per cent of the equity in Morland, the regional brewer, has withdrawn its acceptances for the hostile pounds 103m bid from Greene King, writes Robert Cole.

The withdrawal is a blow for Greene King, whose bid finally closes on Friday. Ten days ago it said it had acceptances for 47.2 per cent of Morland's equity. Yesterday that figure was cut to 46 per cent.

When Greene King launched the bid it had secured the support of the Whitbread Investment Company and its 43.5 per cent stake.

However, Greene King needs the backing of only one undecided institutional shareholder to win on Friday. A circular sent out yesterday by Robert Fleming, Greene King's financial adviser, said acceptance of Greene King shares would provide a threefold increase in dividends.

Fleming also pointed out that Greene King's share price has risen during the bid, despite an average 11 per cent fall in regional brewers' shares and a 10 per cent fall in the FT-SE 100 index.