Manitowoc trumps ITW in battle for Enodis with fresh £1.08bn bid

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The Independent Online

Manitowoc has turned up the heat in the battle for Enodis, the UK-listed kitchen equipment group, as it returned to the table with an offer of £1.08bn, trumping a bid from rival Illinois Tool Works (ITW).

Manitowoc has been working feverishly over the past week with its advisers JP Morgan Cazenove to respond to ITW's surprise £1.03bn bid for Enodis, which supplies deep fat fryers to McDonald's. It said yesterday: "Following the offer announced by ITW on May 8, Manitowoc has today increased its original offer."

Sources close to ITW were confident last week that an offer of 282p per share would be enough to see Manitowoc drop out, but a source close to yesterday's bid said: "They underestimated how much Manitowoc wants Enodis."

At 294p per share, Manitowoc's offer is almost 5 per cent higher than its rival's.

Glen Tellock, president and chief executive of Manitowoc, said the group had considered its options and "reaffirmed that there is significant strategic merit in bringing these two strong organisations together".

This leaves the Enodis board in an interesting position as they have already switched their recommendation once, saying it had decided to back ITW because of its higher offer and the likelihood of a deal being completed.

Manitowoc, which has foodservice, crane and ship repair divisions, said it "encourages the Enodis directors to recommend unanimously that Enodis shareholders vote in favour of the resolutions to be proposed". Enodis, which is being advised by Rothschild, would not comment yesterday.

With the tables turned, ITW offered a similar response to its rival last week. It is "considering its position with respect to Enodis and will make a further announcement in due course". However, shares in Enodis jumped 7p to 305p yesterday, as investors predicted ITW would return to the table.

Enodis, which is listed in London but has its headquarters in Florida, has been the focus of takeover interest for over 18 months.

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