Thomson won't talk until C&N ups price

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The Independent Online

Thomson Travel, the holiday company facing a £1.3bn bid from German travel group C&N Touristica, is not willing to open formal talks on the offer until the predator commits itself to a specific higher price.

C&N said last week it was willing to listen to Thomson's argument for more money, but this merely prompted another rebuff of its 130p-a-share indicative offer. Yesterday a Thomson spokesman said: "They have got to come up with a different number first. They're not going to get us to talk to them until they first improve the figure that they've mentioned.

"They have to specific about that. Our position is very clear that 130p offers no basis for talks. Until that number changes, we're not going to get round a table with them."

The spokesman denied weekend reports that the two sides were secretly talking. However, other sources said the advisers of the two companies were maintaining an informal dialogue.

C&N, thought to be reluctant to go hostile, is expected to bow to the pressure this week and raise its indicative offer price. However, it is not expected to go as high as the 170p a share at which Thomson floated in May 1998. Analysts suggest that 150p a share ought to get Thomson to enter talks that could lead to a firm offer. Thomson shares closed last week at 137p.

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