Wyevale investors back £311m takeover

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The Independent Online

Shareholders in Wyevale Garden Centres are tipped to support a £311m board-agreed bid from a consortium including Sir Tom Hunter and Iceland's Baugur even though some analysts believe it undervalues the group.

The 555p-per-share offer was announced alongside disappointing full-year results that showed like-for-like sales had slumped 15 per cent during the first 15 weeks of this year. Shares in Wyevale closed 4p lower at 548.5p.

The juxtaposition of the poor figures and bid offer made it more likely investors would opt for cash now rather than years of uncertainty and an expensive turnaround programme, analysts said.

Based on the amount of work needed to modernise the business and improve its appeal, Jim Hodkinson, Wyevale's chairman, said: "Shareholders are not going to see that price [555p per share] for a number of years in my view."

One unresolved question remains whether Millennium Partners, a New York-based hedge fund that owns 11 per cent of Wyevale, will accept the offer. It bought some of its holding at 580p from the property veteran Jack Petchey but is thought to have paid about 500p per share on average for its holding. It did not clarify its intentions yesterday.

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