Hanover tries to flush out rival offers

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The Independent Online

Hanover International, the hotel operator under siege from Jack Petchey, will today appeal to shareholders not to accept his 125p-per-share offer but instead give the group a chance to flush out rival bidders.

The company was given a temporary breather in its attempts to repel a controversial £38.2m takeover bid from the property tycoon,after the Takeover Panel ruled that Mr Petchey had breached its rules by buying 1.23 million shares shortly after announcing his offer. The ruling reduced Mr Petchey's holding in Hanover from 53.18 per cent to just over 49 per cent.

Peter Eyles, Hanover's executive chairman, has had heavy interest from both financial and trade buyers keen to acquire the group's 15 hotels and conference centres.

A statement from Mr Petchey's Trefick investment vehicle suggested the entrepreneur did not intend to hang on to the company if he acquired it by raising the notion of an offer from a third party. This is likely to strengthen Hanover's pleas to its shareholders to ignore Trefick's bid. Mr Petchey still needs acceptance over another 0.83 per cent of Hanover's shares to be able to declare his bid unconditional.