New deadlines force final bids

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tighter takeover rules that came into effect yesterday have forced deadlines on a slew of would-be bidders for mostly small-cap companies.

The new Takeover Panel rules include a 28-day deadline to "put up or shut up" – to make an offer or walk away. Ongoing bid talks that must now reach a conclusion by 17 October include bookmaker Ladbrokes' interest in smaller rival Sportingbet and William Hill's tilt at the small Gibraltar-based gaming group Probability

The clock is also now ticking on the long-running saga between hotel operator MWB and office space supplier MWB Business Exchange. Potential bids for financial services firm Merchant Securities, banking software firm Parseq, Purple Ronnie brand owner Coolabi and insurance broker THB Group are now also facing 17 October deadlines. Reuters