White Nile adviser agrees to be bought out in £15.8m deal

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The Independent Online

Numerica, the accountancy services group that is advising White Nile, has finally struck a deal to be taken over by its bigger rival Vantis for £15.8m.

Numerica, the accountancy services group that is advising White Nile, has finally struck a deal to be taken over by its bigger rival Vantis for £15.8m.

After the acquisition, which is expected to be completed by the end of this month, Vantis will sell Numerica's offices in Bristol, Southampton and Manchester to its rival BDO Stoy Hayward for £12.075m.

Stoy Hayward made an approach to buy Numerica in 2003 just after the AIM-listed group issued a stinging profit warning and cut directors' pay, but swiftly decided against proceeding with an offer.

A second suitor, said to be RSM Robson Rhodes, also walked away from Numerica in December 2003.

Vantis has offered 16 new Vantis shares for every 73 Numerica shares, or alternatively 30p in cash for each Numerica share.

That represents a premium of about 36 per cent to the closing price of 22p on 29 April.

Numerica shares originally listed in October 2001 at 100p and reached 119.5p in mid-2002, but have been in steady decline ever since. The group joined London's junior market as an acquisition vehicle focused on buying up medium-sized accountancy practices, but increasingly found business tough.

Two years ago Numerica was also at the centre of a row between its house broker Collins Stewart and one of the brokerage's former analysts, James Middleweek, then embroiled in a bitter lawsuit with the company for wrongful dismissal. Mr Middleweek alleged that he was pressured by brokers at Collins Stewart, whose clients had invested in the stock, not to write negative things about Numerica.

Mr Middleweek has recently withdrawn his allegations and his case for unfair dismissal after Collins Stewart filed an action for libel against him, with no money changing hands. Numerica supported Collins Stewart throughout the furore.

Numerica is currently advising the cash shell White Nile and recently acted as administrators to Teddington Studios, the west London television studio that hosted Men Behaving Badly.

Numerica shares closed up 7.5p at 29.5p yesterday.

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