TBI awaits crucial decision on £500m Vinci bid

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The Independent Online

Vinci, the French construction group, will today clarify whether it plans to press ahead with its 90p-a-share bid for TBI, the regional airports operator. The first closing date for Vinci's £500m offer falls at 3pm this afternoon although TBI directors and their families, who together hold about 19 per cent of the shares, have already said they plan to accept it.

Separately, it emerged yesterday that Tempus Group, the media buying agency facing a 555p-a-share bid from WPP, will bring its interim results forward to Tuesday, prompting speculation its suitor will be forced to see its offer through.

Should either Vinci, in its bid for TBI, or WPP, in its bid for Tempus, want to pull out of their respective offers, they could try to persuade the City's Takeover Panel by citing "material adverse change".

However, in Vinci's case, such an argument might not hold much sway since TBI said last week it did not consider there would be a material adverse effect on its year ended 31 March results, even with the aviation industry now clearly in crisis after the terrorist attacks in the US.

Similarly, Tempus' move to bring its results forward suggests trading might not be as bad as some in the City had thought. As a result, WPP might find it harder to argue that there had been a material adverse change.

The only way Vinci and WPP could withdraw their offers is if they fail to get the required 90 per cent support from shareholders by the first closing date. If the level of acceptances is lower, they can let their offers lapse.

TBI, which had vociferously been urging shareholders to reject Vinci's offer on the grounds it was too cheap, made an opportunistic U-turn last Thursday, advising them to approve the deal.

The first closing date for WPP's offer is 1 October although that deal is also subject to certain regulatory approval.

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