Hall fends off hostile pounds 52m cash bid from TT Group

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The Independent Online
TT GROUP, the diversified industrial operation based in Weybridge, yesterday launched a hostile cash bid of 97p a share for Hall Engineering. The bid values the struggling automotive engineer and wire maker at pounds 51.8m, less than half its value in May last year.

The offer is 38 per cent above the price on 4 January, the day before TT began buying a handful of Hall shares in the market. Hall shares climbed 10p to 107p on Wednesday, and they gained another 12p yesterday to close at 119p.

TT wants to buy Hall to strengthen its position as a supplier of precision products to car manufacturers. It expects to expand Hall's sales of automotive pressings and panels.

TT is also looking to Hall's interests making reinforcings for concrete in Singapore to give it a foothold in the region. There are no plans to break the business up, close plants or seek redundancies, TT's executive chairman, John Newman, said yesterday.

The offer gives Hall's shareholders the opportunity to realise cash for their holdings, which were worth 319p little more than two years ago and 257p in May last year, only to plunge to a long-term low of 67p last month.

Over the past six months analysts have slashed profit forecasts for Hall from pounds 18m to pounds 10 to pounds 11m for 1998 and from pounds 20m to pounds 10m, with earnings of 15p a share, in 1999.

Hall's managing director, John Sword, rejected the bid as inadequate and opportunistic, arguing that the sharp rise in the shares reflected "value" investors picking up stock.