Mannesmann rebuffs Vodafone's new talks offer

MANNESMANN, the German telecoms and engineering giant fighting an pounds 80bn-plus hostile bid from Vodafone AirTouch, yesterday dismissed an offer of fresh talks from Chris Gent, Vodafone's chief executive.

Mr Gent said he was preparing a direct appeal to Klaus Esser this week to discuss what is the world's largest takeover offer. But the Mannesmann chairman snubbed the approach, saying there was no point in talks unless Vodafone sweetened its all-paper offer.

The rejection sets the stage for the formal commencement of hostilities between the pair, with the posting of Vodafone's offer document to the German company's shareholders expected before Christmas.

A Mannesmann spokesman said the company was expecting notification of a legal challenge to its board's rejection of the Vodafone bid, launched by a group of Mannesmann shareholders.

Mr Esser said: "With the Vodafone offer being final, it is difficult to see the potential in further talks.

"There is no strategic incentive for Mannesmann to combine with Vodafone, nor has Vodafone offered adequate financial incentive to compensate Mannesmann shareholders for taking paper in a company with significantly lower growth prospects."

The sparring is the latest stage in an increasingly bitter struggle between the companies for the lead role in shaping telecoms provision across Europe. It is the first hostile bid for a German company by a foreign rival. Last month Vodafone raised its initial 203-euro-a-share bid to about 240 euros. The subsequent rise in Vodafone shares places its offer value at about 260 euros a share.

Before the Mannesmann rejection, a Vodafone official said Mr Gent would make a personal plea to Mr Esser. "Vodafone has always tried to do this on a friendly basis," the spokesman said. "Mr Gent will be putting in a call [to Mr Esser] this week."

It was unclear last night whether Mr Gent would press on with his executive- to-executive lobbying.

German weekend newspapers said Mannesmann faces legal action from some shareholders, angry at the board's rejection of Vodafone. A company official said Mannesmann had not received formal notification of the challenge.

Several Hamburg shareholders filed a court injunction against Mannesmann in the Dusseldorf district court on Friday on the grounds that the management was acting against shareholders' interests, Welt am Sonntag reported. The complaint argues that Mr Esser's defence is illegitimate because German company law demands that the management of Mannesmann maintains a neutral stance.

Andreas Dimke, the lawyer heading the action, said: "The management board of Mannesmann is evidently not aware that it is merely an administrator for the shareholders."

There was no indication how many shareholders Mr Dimke represents, nor the scale of their shareholdings.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Are you passionate about sale...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Developer (Trainee) - City, London

£25000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A large financial services company...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Assistant - Financial Services Sector - London

£20400 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and highly reputable organisat...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future