Hepworth surges as takeover bids confirmed

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The Independent Online

Hepworth, the heating and building group, yesterday confirmed that is has received takeover bids from several companies, sending its shares surging 47.5p to 271p.

Hepworth, the heating and building group, yesterday confirmed that is has received takeover bids from several companies, sending its shares surging 47.5p to 271p.

Likely contenders for Hepworth, which is one of the largest manufacturers of gas boilers in Europe, are thought to be Carrier, a subsidiary of America's United Technologies, and Gruppo Riello, which is partly owned by the private equity firm Carlyle Group.

A spokesman for Hepworth gave weight to speculation that a deal may be done with a European partner. He said: "We are very definitely looking at Europe."

He added: "It may be that a company that we wanted to buy now wants to buy us."

This scenario could bring Riello into the frame as it was thought to have been on Hepworth's list of possible targets. However, Hepworth lost out in the auction for the business to Carlyle Group.

Analysts said a bidder would have to pay more than £550m for Hepworth, which saw its value climb to £658m at the close of market yesterday. This was up on the 223p-a-share price the company hit on Tuesday, when bidding news first leaked into the market.

Hepworth announced in March that it was going to pursue various options to increase shareholder value, following a continued under performance of shares in the building sector.

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