Kvaerner piles on pressure

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The Independent Online
Kvaerner stepped up the pressure on Amec shareholders yesterday, hinting it may dump its shareholding if it loses its pounds 360m bid battle for the group, writes Magnus Grimond.

The shares slipped 2.5p to 96p - 4p below Kvaerner's offer - as more institutional shareholders voted with their feet ahead of the Monday lunch- time close. Norwich Union sold its 2.6 per cent stake in the market and saw it immediately snapped up by the bidder, taking its stake to 26.1 per cent.

Erik Tonseth, Kvaerner president and chief executive, said he believed they would succeed on Monday, but if they did not, Kvaerner would pursue other options. "In deciding whether or not to accept our offers, shareholders should not assume we will be either a supportive or a long-term minority holder of Amec."

But Amec hit back at Kvaerner's attempt to use "veiled and ambiguous threats, to bully shareholders into accepting its cut-price offers". Sir Alan Cockshaw, chairman, said the bidder was still trying to divert attention from the real arguments and continued to advise shareholders to reject the bid.

The outcome of the contest is likely to be finely balanced, turning on the attitude of 14 per cent shareholder PDFM and small shareholders.