Vinci scraps £503m TBI takeover bid

Aviation
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The Independent Online

The French construction giant Vinci will today withdraw its £503m bid for the regional airports group TBI in the wake of the uncertainties caused by the terrorist attacks on America.

The French construction giant Vinci will today withdraw its £503m bid for the regional airports group TBI in the wake of the uncertainties caused by the terrorist attacks on America.

Vinci will allow its 90p-a-share offer to lapse having failed to secure acceptances from more than 90 per cent of TBI's shareholders. The French group is also likely to claim that there has been a "material adverse change" in the prospects for TBI, the owner of Luton, Cardiff and Belfast airports, which justifies its decision to back out.

In a sudden about-turn, the TBI board last week decided to recommend the offer, having previously described it as "opportunistic and cheapskate". TBI said that in light of events in the US the 90p offer now appeared "fair and reasonable".

Despite the change of heart, the markets had been expecting Vinci to pull out. TBI shares closed 2p lower at 57.5p last night – 36 per cent below Vinci's offer price, valuing the airports group at £321m. Together with the 15 per cent Vinci already owns and the 19 per cent voted in favour of the offer by TBI's management, acceptances are thought to have been well above 50 per cent.

The collapse of the Vinci offer leaves TBI with an uncertain future as the world's airline industry contracts and carriers shed staff, capacity and routes. TBI is partly insulated by the fact UK airports largely cater for regional and short-haul airlines.

However, TBI also has interests in four North American airports and is yet to reach agreement with its biggest customer at Luton, easyJet, on a new charging formula.

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