Peterhouse chairman considers own bid after Babcock approach

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The Independent Online

David Jackson, the executive chairman of Peterhouse, the rail and telecoms contractor, is considering making a bid for the company after it received a £106m approach from its rival Babcock International.

David Jackson, the executive chairman of Peterhouse, the rail and telecoms contractor, is considering making a bid for the company after it received a £106m approach from its rival Babcock International.

Mr Jackson, who has changed Peterhouse from a staid construction company into a support services group during his seven years at the helm, is understood to be seeking funding to trump Babcock's indicative offer. Friends said he believed the offer undervalued Peterhouse.

Babcock said yesterday that it may bid 220p-a-share, around 30 per cent in cash, but that it had not yet decided to proceed with an offer. Shares in Peterhouse were 0.5p lower at 222p yesterday.

Babcock, whose shares were off a half-penny at 127.5p, said its offer represented a 57 per cent premium to the average closing price before 1 February, when Peterhouse announced it had received an approach. Babcock completed its own transformation from engineer to support services group last year, and wants Peterhouse to broaden its base in civil infrastructure projects. Peterhouse has been brought low by a string of profit warnings and the decision of Network Rail to take track maintenance in-house - less than a year after Peterhouse went into that market.

Mr Jackson, a serial entrepreneur and horse racing enthusiast, took the reins at Peterhouse in 1997 when the group acquired Totty and Lowfields Technology, which were both under his chairmanship. Mr Jackson has a 2.55 per cent shareholding in Peterhouse.

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