S&N investors to get £140m less from sale

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The Independent Online

Investors in Scottish & Newcastle will receive £140m less than they may have been expecting from a takeover by Carlsberg and Heineken after the bidders confirmed that they will not pay the brewer's final dividend.

Just a day after agreeing to begin takeover talks, the bidders yesterday sought to eliminate confusion over how much they were willing to pay for the brewer of Newcastle Brown Ale. They said: "Our proposed offer was made on the basis that the dividend would not be paid in addition to the 800 pence [per share offer] and we made S&N fully aware of this prior to the release of the joint statement on Thursday. If the dividend were to be paid, it would have been in the announcement."

The announcement means that the 20p increase tabled this week by the bidders, which brought the headline acquisition price from 780p to 800p and finally drew the Edinburgh brewer to the negotiating table, was in effect an increase of just 5p. Analysts had expected the company to pay a dividend of 15p. S&N had indicated that it would seek assurance from the bidders that they would honour the dividend payment.

This is no longer the case. In what amounts to a 24-hour volte face, S&N has accepted their stance, abandoning its previously espoused position that it would seek the dividend in addition to the offer price.

A spokesman said the companies were engaged in "constructive" discussions and that the primary focus was now on ensuring increased financial disclosures on BBH, the Russian joint venture controlled by S&N and Carlsberg, so that shareholders will be able to make a more informed decision when deciding whether to tender their shares to an offer. "We're focused on transparency," he said

An analyst said: "I don't think shareholders will be too bothered. Most will just be happy that this thing will get done and dusted."