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Gulf Canada ahead in battle for Clyde

The bitterly fought pounds 500m battle for Clyde Petroleum, which closes at lunchtime today, looked to be swinging Gulf Canada's way yesterday after the bidder announced control over 42.5 per cent of the oil explorer's shares. The deadline for acceptances is 1pm today.

Gulf said yesterday it had received acceptances in respect of 45.3 million shares, representing just under 11 per cent of Clyde's equity. In addition it now owns 29.9 per cent, the maximum allowed under Takeover Panel rules. A further 1.46 per cent of shares have been pledged to Gulf, but their acceptance is not yet valid.

Today's final count will hinge on the decision of 19.5 per cent-shareholder Schroders, which is understood to have favoured supporting Clyde'smanagement led by chief executive Roy Franklin, but has kept its own counsel.

Clyde's shares closed 1p lower at 116.5p, below Gulf's final offer of 120p, as the market gave up hope of intervention from a white knight. Despite claims from Clyde that the company was worth much more than Gulf's bid, the shares never rose higher than 123p throughout the 60-day bid timetable.

The battle for Clyde has been acrimonious with both sides using the relative subjectivity of oil company valuation to produce wildly differing price tags.

Clyde's fate has been decided by a small handful of shareholders. Only four - Schroders, PDFM (which sold out), Norwich Union and Capital Group of the US - held more than 50 per cent of the shares between them.