Cinven considers £325m bid for Wyevale Garden

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The Independent Online

Cinven, the private-equity group, announced yesterday it is considering a bid for Wyevale Garden Centres, the chain whose chairman has been fighting off a revolt from its largest shareholder.

Gnome Acquisitions, the Cinven company being used to make the bid, indicated it would enjoy the support of the dissident shareholder Laxey Partners. Analysts said the support of Laxey, which holds 27.6 per cent of Wyevale, may scare off other prospective suitors

Laxey is keen to sell its Wyevale stake after unsuccessfully attempting to unseat the chairman David Williams at an extraordinary meeting last month. The two sides had previously clashed over strategies relating to the company's real estate.

Laxey's pledge to approve the Cinven offer depends on the offer appearing before 2 December and at no less than 580p a share, valuing Wyevale at £325m. Laxey is not expected to make much profit at this level.

Analysts were divided as to whether a Cinven offer at 580p represented good value. Nick Bubb, at Evolution Securities, said he was surprised at the interest shown by private-equity firms in a market where any upside in value might be difficult to achieve. Richard Ratner, at Seymour Securities, downgraded his recommendation from "outperform" to "hold" describing a 580p offer as "a bit mean". Wyevale shares closed up 4.5p at 570p.

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