Mansfield locals to fight W&D's £253m takeover

Click to follow
The Independent Online

WOLVERHAMPTON & Dudley Breweries, the UK's largest regional brewer, yesterday said that it had struck a £253m agreed takeover deal with the board of its smaller rival, Mansfield Brewery.

WOLVERHAMPTON & Dudley Breweries, the UK's largest regional brewer, yesterday said that it had struck a £253m agreed takeover deal with the board of its smaller rival, Mansfield Brewery.

The deal, which will leave W&D with four breweries and over 2,000 pubs, has sparked anger among local campaigners, including Alan Meale, Mansfield's Labour MP, who vowed yesterday to fight the sale in the High Court. Mr Meale said: "Nobody here thinks it's a positive move so we are going to get on with the business of campaigning - we are going to the courts."

The opposition centres on the FB Bailey Thomas Provident Fund, which controls 18 per cent of Mansfield Brewery, and which was set up by the founding family to support the interests of past and present members of the company. The trust said last July that it was looking to sell its stake, along with its sister fund, FB Bailey Thomas Charitable Fund, which holds a 30 per cent stake.

But Mr Meale says the Provident Fund does not have the right to cash in its interests except in "special circumstances" which, he claims, do not apply in this case.

Although W&D has pledged to keep Mansfield's brewery open for two years, it is widely thought the facility, which employs 579 people, will then close. W&D has also said it will axe 250 jobs in head office positions where an overlap was created in the enlarged group.

Bill McCosh, Mansfield's chief executive said: "The staff have taken it very stoically. Their reaction was similar to that of a family. You may know that a relative has been seriously ill for some time, but their death still comes as a shock."

Mr McCosh said he and other members of the board had fought hard to stage a management buyout in order to continue running the business in its present form. But he said: "Sadly, once the trusts had decided that they wanted to sell their stake, the directors had a responsibility to get the best possible deal for all shareholders. Wolverhampton & Dudley simply had more fire power than us."

The offer values each Mansfield share at 380p and will be made on a basis of 190p in cash and 0.33756 new W&D shares for each Mansfield share. Mansfield shares closed up 21.5p at 369p yesterday.

Comments