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Hillsdown bid war breaks out

A BIDDING war for Hillsdown Holdings, the furniture-to-Typhoo tea conglomerate, yesterday broke out when Firstmark Products announced an agreed cash bid of pounds 530m, writes Andrew Verity.

The bid by Firstmark, a company backed by the venture capital group Candover, trumps a pounds 515m bid made on Thursday by the US private equity firm Hicks, Muse, Tate and Furst.

The deal is pitched at 145p a share, an 81 per cent premium to the average Hillsdown share price before 12 May, when it revealed it was in takeover talks with a number of parties.

It takes the form of a management buy-out, with Michael Teacher, Hillsdown's chief executive, taking charge of Firstmark. City observers yesterday described the offer as "an extremely full price".