VT plans third bid for Mouchel

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The Independent Online

VT Group is expected to increase its takeover offer for Mouchel in a third attempt to get its support services rival around the negotiating table.

Advisers to VT are believed to be working on plans this weekend to raise the bid to around 300p-a-share after Mouchel rejected previous offers for undervaluing it.

VT is pursuing Mouchel as part of a strategy to transform the company from a warship builder into a support services business. But Mouchel has refused to enter talks and has won the backing of key shareholders.

A new offer, which could be tabled early this week, follows VT's cash and shares bid in December worth 260p-a-share, valuing Mouchel at £275m. Mouchel has net debt of £101m.

VT was "almost ready to push the button" on another offer, one source said. And an analyst said: "There are fresh rumours that VT is ready to come back." A bid is likely to involve sweetening the cash element. VT, after selling its shipbuilding interests to BAE Systems last year, has a £400m war chest to spend.

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