Nomura ups Hyder bid to 360p a share

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The Independent Online

THE STAKES in the bid battle for utility Hyder were raised yet again yesterday when Nomura, the Japanese bank, surprisingly increased its offer ahead of an unprecedented climax on Friday which is expected see both sides submit sealed final bids.

THE STAKES in the bid battle for utility Hyder were raised yet again yesterday when Nomura, the Japanese bank, surprisingly increased its offer ahead of an unprecedented climax on Friday which is expected see both sides submit sealed final bids.

Nomura's latest offer is 360p a share, valuing the company at £557m, 100p a share more than its original offer in April. Hyder, which has water and electricity assets in Wales, also comes with £1.9bn of debt. The US utility Western Power Distribution, the rival bidder, yesterday said it was considering its options. WPD increased its 300p-a-share bid to 340p a share last week.

If sealed bids are submitted on Friday, it will be the first time the device has been used. The Takeover Panel has proposed it before, but the mechanism has never actually been invoked.

Under UK takeover rules, Friday is day 46 of the bid timetable and the last opportunity for either bidder to raise its offer. The Hyder battle is unusual in having two cash bidders left in the contest at this late stage.

To ensure an orderly finale on Friday, the Takeover Panel is expected to rule that the two will have to make sealed final offers that day. This will allow each to make a last offer, and state the highest level it is prepared to go to if it is outbid.

The pre-emptive move by Nomura yesterday surprised analysts, as it was expected to wait until Friday to offer around 360p a share through the sealed bids process.

Bruce Bromley, an analyst at Crédit Lyonnais, said an offer of up to 400p could be justified by the value of Hyder's regulated assets.

Nomura has now made three bids for the company as it vied to gain the upper hand, and WPD has twice come back with counter-offers.

Hyder shares closed up 28p at 378p.

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