Marston rejects pounds 262m Wolves bid

A TAKEOVER battle broke out in the brewing industry yesterday as Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries launched a pounds 262m hostile offer for Marston, Thompson & Evershed, its West Midlands rival.

The bid, which Marston immediately rejected as unwelcome, comes after several unsuccessful attempts by Wolverhampton to agree a friendly merger between the two companies.

The move is a last-ditch attempt to stop Marston from selling most of its tenanted pub estate to Nomura, the Japanese bank, in a deal which would see pounds 60m returned to shareholders. Last night, Marston - best known for brewing Pedigree bitter and its Pitcher & Piano pub chain - said it was considering returning even more cash to shareholders.

David Thompson, Wolverhampton's chief executive, said: "They are selling their best-performing asset and investing in that part of the business where returns are falling."

Marston shareholders will vote on the disposal on 9 December. Yesterday, Wolverhampton warned that its bid would only go ahead if the Nomura deal was rejected.

Advisers to Marston said Wolverhampton was trying to bully shareholders into accepting its bid. "How can you have a proper debate about this in such a short time?" one said. "Shareholders are being bounced and it should not be allowed."

News of the bid sent shares in Marston soaring 41p to 287.5p - just ahead of the 283.3p being offered by Wolverhampton. Since speculation started over Wolverhampton's interest, Marston shares have risen by 67 per cent.

Industry experts doubted whether the offer would be enough.

"Wolverhampton will have to increase their offer. Their case is not terribly strong," one leading analyst said, adding that a 320p offer would be more reasonable. Marston pointed out that its net assets are currently worth 343p per share.

However, experts questioned Wolverhampton's ability to raise its bid much further. The company, which is offering 182p in cash and 0.235 new Wolverhampton shares for each Marston share, will already be financially stretched by the deal with balance sheet gearing rising to 85 per cent.

One possibility would be for Wolverhampton to offload the Pitcher & Piano chain of pubs. Mr Thompson yesterday questioned the chain's identity and Marston's decision to expand it at a time when other chains were cutting back on investment in high street pubs.

Mr Thompson said the geographical fit between Wolverhampton and Marston was compelling. "We believe the long-term consolidation of the brewing industry is sensible," he said, adding that the company had identified pounds 12m of cost savings if the two companies were merged.

These include closing one of the two head offices, combining distribution and sales forces, and merging computer systems - a move that would lead to the loss of at least 250 jobs. However, Wolverhampton stressed that Marston's brewery in Burton would be kept open.

Wolverhampton said it had tried to agree a friendly merger with Marston. But the most recent round of talks broke down on 16 November.

"We were willing to make concessions on the head office and the chairmanship, but they were not interested," Mr Thompson said.

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
i100
Sport
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
boxing
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Market Risk & Control Manager

Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Head of Audit

To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments