Kidde will open books for higher UTC bid

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The Independent Online

Kidde, the fire protection group, said it was prepared to open its books to the predator United Technologies Corp - but only if the US group agreed not to go hostile in its attempt to buy the British company.

Kidde, the fire protection group, said it was prepared to open its books to the predator United Technologies Corp - but only if the US group agreed not to go hostile in its attempt to buy the British company.

UTC responded that this was an unacceptable condition and it would go directly to Kidde shareholders, to try to force the British company to share more information after it rebuffed UTC's £1.3bn takeover approach.

Kidde shares jumped 17 per cent to 170p, well above the 160p a share offer from UTC which emerged on Thursday night.

Few analysts give UTC, which indicated that it was prepared to go hostile, much chance of success at its 160p offer price. Kidde's closing share price showed the City believed UTC would have to go higher or another bidder might come in.

UTC, an industrial group which makes everything from helicopters to lifts, said it was frustrated at not being given access to financial records at Kidde to conduct due diligence. UTC has been run for a decade by George David, 62, who was recently described in a US magazine profile as a "philosopher king of manufacturing".

The US company already canvassed opinion among a small number of Kidde shareholders before news of its approach leaked. UTC said it would now go to a much broader range of Kidde shareholders in an attempt to get investors to pressure the company into opening its books.

A spokesperson for UTC said: "We are considering whether to proceed with an offer and intend to meet with shareholders in order to seek their support for satisfactory due diligence access."

Kidde said it was prepared to share more information with the US group, "to enable UTC to increase its proposal", but only if it agreed to certain conditions, which UTC had refused. The US company was told it must sign a standstill agreement, which would stop it making a hostile bid, buying Kidde shares and going to Kidde shareholders.

Norman Askew, the chairman of Kidde, said: "Kidde is a company that has delivered consistently since its listing in November 2000. The board is confident in its ability to continue to deliver attractive returns to shareholders. For any offer for Kidde to be recommended by the board, it would need to reflect Kidde's current strengths and its prospects."

Analysts agreed that the UTC approach, which was not a formal bid, was opportunistic, as Kidde's markets are turning up. Michael Blogg, at Arbuthnot Securities, said a successful bidder may have to go as high as 200p a share or £1.7bn.

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