Scott Wilson to decide on rival bids

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Takeover target Scott Wilson Group will tell the market tomorrow morning if it is set to stick with the engineer URS as its preferred suitor, or switch its backing to a rival US company, CH2M Hill, which has submitted a higher bid.

URS had its 210p-a-share bid accepted and recommended by the Scott Wilson board on Monday, just hours before CH2M bought 13 per cent of Scott Wilson’s shares. CH2M then upped the stakes further yesterday, by offering 245p a share for the engineering consultancy.

And in a bizarre twist today, the Takeover Panel said that URS’s response to the CH2M bid, in which it said that it may match the higher offer, broke its rules. In a statement, the Panel said that URS had broken a provision designed to guard against vague statements. It added that URS must announce by Friday morning that it will either match or better CH2M’s offer, or that it will not increase its bid.

URS, also an American group, today refused to comment on the Takeover Panel’s intervention. This afternoon, it was due to tell the Scott Wilson board in private if it was prepared to meet the better offer from its rival. Scott Wilson considered the decision tonight, ahead of tomorrow’s stock market announcement.