Mattel near victory with pounds 62m bid for Spear

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The Independent Online
BARBIE last night inched closer to victory in the battle for Scrabble when Mattel, the US toy company that owns the doll, increased its offer for games company JW Spear and won acceptances from holders of more than half the shares, writes Heather Connon.

Mattel's pounds 11.50-a-share offer comes just three days after rival toy group Hasbro increased its bid from pounds 9 to pounds 11 a share in an attempt to beat off the challenge from Mattel. The latest offer values Spear at pounds 62m and represents a multiple of 21.1 of 1993 earnings.

Mattel said it had secured acceptances from directors and trustees accounting for 51.2 per cent of the shares, although these could be withdrawn if a higher bid emerged.

Hasbro said last night it was considering its position. It owns more than 24 per cent of Spear's shares and has been keen to add Spear's British, European and Australian Scrabble rights to its US ones.

Mattel's offer has secured the recommendation of the board.

Francis Spear, chairman, said: 'We are very happy with the revised Mattel offer which we think is fair and reasonable.'

Mr Spear had recommended acceptance of the original 900p offer from Hasbro but his board colleagues were unhappy and a frantic search for white knights brought in Mattel.

It is keen to use Spear as a platform to launch a games business in Britain where it has only a small share of the market, and to expand sales of Scrabble to more than 140 countries.