Nomura mulls further appeal after losing battle for Hyder

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The Independent Online

Nomura, the Japanese bank, was yesterday considering whether to make a further appeal after the Takeover Panel ruled in favour of Western Power Distribution's rival £566m bid for Hyder, the Welsh utility.

Nomura, the Japanese bank, was yesterday considering whether to make a further appeal after the Takeover Panel ruled in favour of Western Power Distribution's rival £566m bid for Hyder, the Welsh utility.

The chaos surrounding the fate of Hyder took one step closer to resolution when the Takeover Panel dismissed Nomura's appeal against WPD's sealed bid, which was first pronounced the winner on Friday.

However, Nomura can still make a further appeal, before the Appeals Committee of the Takeover Panel. The bank yesterday said it was "considering its options". Nomura is believed to be waiting until it has read the full judgement from the Panel, before deciding whether to appeal.

The regulator said it would publish a full statement giving reasons for its decision by the close of business tomorrow, unless Nomura lodged an application for the case to be heard by the Appeals Committee. It is thought that Nomura was given the full text yesterday.

The Panel was originally expected to make public the outcome of the appeal on Tuesday but the announcement was delayed. The Panel has come under mounting criticism for its handling of the Hyder bid.

Nigel Hawkins at Williams de Broe, said: "The Takeover Panel can't say that the past few days have been their finest hour."

The Appeals Committee of the Panel is chaired by Sir Michael Kerr, a former lord justice of appeal. If Nomura appeals against yesterday's decision, two people from the 16-strong Panel, members who did not adjudicate in the original case, would sit with the chair to hear the case.

Nomura also has the option of seeking a judicial review of the Panel's decision. However, in past cases, the courts have made it clear that they do not wish to hear appeals against the workings of the Takeover Panel.

The farcical ending to the bid battle kicked off on Wednesday last week, when the Takeover Panel ruled that it said it would decide the contest, on Friday, by a final round of sealed bids - a procedure to be used for the first time ever. Nomura protested vehemently against the plan saying it was "inappropriate".

In the event, only WPD submitted a bid by the 1pm deadline and was awarded Hyder, valuing the Welsh utility at 365p a share. But the US bidder then failed to make a 4.30pm deadline, by which to announce its winning bid. Nomura claims this made the WPD offer invalid, leaving the Japanese bank's last offer, of 360p, made previously, as the highest valid offer. Just before midnight on Friday, the Panel's day-to-day executive declared WPD the winner. This was upheld by the full Panel yesterday.

The Panel has drawn further criticism because WPD had actually been willing to pay 375p a share in its sealed bid. Some analysts said this meant Hyder shareholders got 10p a share less because of the use of this procedure, compared with simply prolonging the bidding.

WPD is believed to be interested mainly in Hyder's electricity distribution business, which will be combined with the US company's existing electricity operation in South-west England. The water business will be run by another operator, United Utilities, under the terms of a £1bn contract already in place.

Hyder comes with a crippling £1.9bn of debt.

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