Lowe Bell set for deal with Chartwell: Public relations group expected to reverse into toilet cubicle maker

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The Independent Online
LOWE BELL, Sir Tim Bell's advertising and public relations agency, is poised for a reverse takeover of Chartwell, a USM-traded manufacturer of carpet tiles and toilet cubicles.

Lowe Bell was bought out from the advertising agency Lowe Howard Spink for pounds 7.6m in 1989. Its most recent high-profile contract was its retention in January by the Government to advise on celebrations for the 50th anniversary of D-Day. Sir Tim owes his knighthood to Baroness Thatcher, whom he advised during her premiership. He has provided heavyweight public relations for many of the country's biggest companies.

Chartwell, a pounds 6m turnover company, has requested suspension of its shares at 48p, pending completion of a proposed substantial acquisition. Shareholders will be asked to approve the reorganisation proposals.

Chartwell said in January, on publication of interim losses of pounds 51,000 for the six months to 30 September, that it was actively seeking a big acquisition.

The presence on its board since last July of Luke Johnson, a financier experienced in reverse takeovers of shell companies - such as Pizza Express's reverse into Star Computers just over a year ago - also indicated a deal was likely. However, Robert Lo, a director of Chartwell, said: 'Mr Johnson was not a catalyst in this transaction.' Mr Johnson said he would soon step down from Chartwell's board.

Chartwell said a further announcement would be made as soon as possible.

An expected rights issue by the merged business would enable Lowe Bell to repay remaining buyout debt.

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