Laporte wins Evode in whirlwind courtship

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The Independent Online
LAPORTE, the chemicals company, yesterday won control of Evode, the glue maker, less than a month after it launched its pounds 144m agreed bid.

Laporte's directors and advisers were celebrating the result last night, achieved after Laporte topped an earlier bid by Wassall, a mini-conglomerate.

By 3pm yesterday Laporte had received acceptances from holders of 66 per cent of Evode, taking its total interest to 78 per cent. The bid has already been cleared by UK competition authorities.

Laporte's own shareholders added to the company's cheer by supporting its fund-raising. It announced that it had received applications for 91 per cent of the 15.4 million shares on offer.

Since Wassall withdrew from the bidding the result had not been in doubt, but the speed with which Laporte won control was unusual. Yesterday was the first closing date. Ken Minton, the chief executive, started talking to Evode's managers about its style and plans two weeks ago, once the likely outcome became clear. He told them that margins would rise substantially under Laporte's ownership.

Mr Minton, who left school at 16 and has worked in coal mines, has strong support in the City as Laporte's profits have grown from pounds 75m in the year ending in 1987 to pounds 103m three years later. They fell to pounds 97m in 1991 when most chemical companies suffered bigger drops.

Closure of the bid will allow Laporte to sell parts of Evode it does not want to keep. These are expected to include the powder coatings business.

It will also have access to work carried out by Evode's management consultants.

The result was helped by a rise in Laporte's share price during the bid from 583p to 649p yesterday, valuing each Evode share at 133p. Laporte offered a cash alternative of 115p.

Evode's shareholders have seen their shares rise from 56p shortly before Wassall launched its bid. They were 133p yesterday, in line with the share offer.

There had been concern that institutional investors would opt for the cash alternative, given the pressure on their cash flows later this year when the Government starts selling larger quantities of gilts.

Closure of the bid leaves the Owners Abroad/Airtours battle as the only sizeable takeover in the City. Hostile bids have been few and far between, leaving some City advisers short of traditional work.

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