Mice Group makes £30.5m bid for Expocentric

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The Independent Online

Shares in the online exhibition services group Expocentric surged 19 per cent yesterday after the dot.com disaster said it had accepted an all-share offer from international marketing company Mice Group.

Mice offered 10 of its shares for every 19 Expocentric shares in a deal that valued Expocentric at £30.5m. The offer was pitched at a premium of 59 per cent above the company's 31.5p closing price before the bid was made public.

Michael Curley, chairman of Mice, said the acquisition would help the group expand into new markets.

"The cash resources made available to us on acquiring Expocentric will enable us to continue to grow our business in response to our international customer base," he said.

Mice clients now include the US car giant Ford Motor and the American computer group Compaq.

Its shares dropped 15 per cent to 80.5p, valuing the business at about £49m.

Expocentric's chief executive, Hugh Scrimgeour, said his company decided on the deal because it had underperformed its own expectations and was unlikely to generate adequate returns for its shareholders in the foreseeable future.

Expocentric shares added 6p to 37.5p.

Mice's takeover will hand it Expocentric's £33.2m cash pile as of the end of September.

Expocentric revealed it made a pre-tax loss of £9.1m in the nine months to 30 September, up from a £6.5m loss in the same period last year.