Perpetual shares soar after approach from Amvescap

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The Independent Online

Martyn Arbib, the founder and controlling shareholder of Perpetual, saw the value of his stake in the fund management group soar 18 per cent to £456m yesterday, after it emerged that the group had been approached by its rival, Amvescap, over a potential £1.2bn takeover bid.

People familiar with the discussions said that that the talks were at a very early stage, and it was far from clear whether Amvescap which is also bidding $1.8bn for Trimark in Canada was prepared to table an offer at a price which Perpetual would be willing to accept.

One source close to the talks said: "They have had a few conversations. But they have not made an offer." After Perpetual confirmed the talks in a brief stock exchange statement, the finance director, David Mossop, said: "We made that statement because the Takeover Panel requested it but there is really not much more we can say at this stage."

The 60-year-old Mr Arbib, a keen racehorse owner, has retained Merrill Lynch as an adviser and is believed to have been looking for a buyer for his 38 per cent stake for over a year. Previous talks with potential buyers have foundered on a failure to agree a price. In the absence of a deal, Mr Arbib has been taking advantage of periodic spikes in the volatile Perpetual share price to cash in part of his family stake.

Analysts said the rumoured price of £50 a share was not unreasonable. The group is expected to publish figures next Tuesday showing pre-tax profits up around 9 per cent to £73m. Funds under management are also expected to have risen from last year's £10.9bn to more than £12bn in the first half.

Perpetual shares soared 660p to 4030p. Amvescap fell 75 p or nearly 8 per cent to 872p on concern that an all-share offer would dilute earnings.