Nomura against bid for Lasmo

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PRESSURE is growing on Enterprise Oil to sweeten its pounds 1.5bn bid for the rival UK explorer Lasmo, as a second securities firm adds its weight to mounting opposition to the bid.

Nomura, the influential Japanese securities firm, is understood to be advising clients to reject the bid for the reason that it does not offer any significant commercial synergy between the two companies. A detailed circular setting out Nomura's case is expected to be published later this week.

It is the second non-aligned broker to come out against Enterprise's all-paper offer. Last week, Kleinwort Benson unsettled Enterprise's shares with a highly critical report on the bid.

Lasmo also issued its defence document, accusing Enterprise of pursuing size for its own sake and launching a bid to divert attention from its own weaknesses.

It further emerged that Elf, the French oil company that owns 24 per cent of Enterprise, plans to break its silence over the bid. The group, which owns a 10 per cent stake directly and the remainder through a joint venture, has so far refused to comment, fuelling speculation that it was cool on the bid.

An Elf spokesman confirmed that it would state its views at an an extraordinary shareholders' meeting called by Enterprise on 26 May to approve the terms. 'Shareholders are being invited to the egm, and Elf will be making a statement about its position there.'