Noble House puts W&D bid on hold

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Noble House Leisure, the private pubs and restaurants company that has been stalking Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries, is understood to have delayed plans to launch a revised offer for the group, scheduled for today. It will now wait until immediately before or after W&D, whose assets include Banks's beer and Pitcher & Piano bars, releases a trading statement on 25 September.

Noble House Leisure, the private pubs and restaurants company that has been stalking Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries, is understood to have delayed plans to launch a revised offer for the group, scheduled for today. It will now wait until immediately before or after W&D, whose assets include Banks's beer and Pitcher & Piano bars, releases a trading statement on 25 September.

It is thought that Robert Breare, chairman of Noble House, views the timing of the W&D statement as crucial to the success or failure of his bid. He is considering whether to hold back on raising his indicative 500p-a-share offer to about 550p in order to capitalise on the expected poor trading figures. Alternatively, he may pre-empt any positive news that could be contained in an accompanying strategic update.

One analyst commented: "I think waiting [until after the statement is released] is probably the right tactic." But others warned that Noble House, whose main backer is the private equity group Botts & Company, could face pressure from the Takeover Panel if it delays too long. A panel official said: "We are in discussions with[Noble House and W&D]... We wouldn't let the situation drag on for the sake of it." W&D shares closed down 11p at 505p.

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