Severn snubs £5bn bid but City feels fresh offer likely


Severn Trent today rejected a takeover approach worth up to  £5 billion from a consortium of foreign investors, saying it “completely fails to recognise the existing and potential value” of  the FTSE 100 water supplier. However, the City predicted another bid would emerge.

Canada’s Borealis, the Kuwait Investment Authority and the Universities Superannuation Scheme, a UK pension fund, made the approach for Severn Trent, which supplies water to more than 4.2 million households in the UK, yesterday but the water firm responded that the offer — which had been thought to be up to £23 a share — was “at only a modest premium to the share price before the announcement.”

The share price before the deal emerged was 1820p. The shares slipped today but City analysts predicted the group would return with another offer.

“It is likely that the consortium will make a further offer,” said Peter Atherton at Liberum Capital. “We have seen many such bids in the past decade, and no bidder has ever given up after just one offer. Nevertheless, the [£5.4 billion] price did seem high, especially given where we are in the regulatory cycle.”

The regulated firm could see its prices change next year when watchdog Ofwat announces a new five-year regulatory regime.