Northern shareholders accept pounds 500m deal

MARY FAGAN

Industrial Correspondent

Five hundred small shareholders flocked to Northern Electric's extraordinary meeting in Newcastle City Hall to approve the first part of a pounds 500m package of sweeteners, offered in defence against the hostile bid earlier this year from Trafalgar House. The initial pounds 2 of the pounds 5-per-share deal will be paid within weeks in the form of special dividends and preference shares.

Northern, whose shares rose by 19p to 914p, also plans a 50p special dividend in 1997, with the balance coming in a special payout related to the planned flotation of the National Grid Company, expected later this year.

The approval comes as City instititutions await a package from Manweb, which is fighting a pounds 1bn hostile attack from Scottish Power and whose first defence is expected by the end of this week. Expectations have been raised by the Northern offer and by South Western Electricity, which is also likely to produce a pounds 5 per share carrot in its attempt to fend off a pounds 1bn bid by Southern Electric International of the US.

On the present timetable Sweb must announce its defence by next Friday but says that the deadline could be extended if the Government has not by then decided whether to refer the US bid to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. .

Maurice Warren, chairman of Sweb, said yesterday that the defence package would "not just be a Northern lookalike".

"We are looking at a strong package. We are looking at what we can give shareholders now and what we can do in the future," he said. The package would justify a bid price in excess of pounds 10 per share for Sweb, compared with the pounds 9 offered by SEI.

Until last Friday the company was in "white knight" talks with neighbouring Southern Electric of the UK and had agreed a price above pounds 10. But Southern abandoned the discussions, citing regulatory fears.

Mr Warren said that the company continues to talk to other potential suitors but refused to give details. "We are pursuing other leads and contacts. There is other interest," he said. The talks are not thought to include other regional electricity firms.

Takeover activity in the regional electricity sector continues to be clouded by uncertainty over the regulatory position. Professor Stephen Littlechild, the regulator, has just finished consulting on Hanson's pounds 2.5bn agreed bid for Eastern. He is due tomorrow to complete a separate consultation on Scottish Power's bid for Manweb and is expected to deliver his advice to the Office of Fair Trading within days.

There is a view that the entire sector should be referred to set down the ground rules. Henry Casley, chief executive of Southern Electric of the UK, said that the situation needs to be clarified. His company declined to bid for SWEB because of the possibility that its offer would be referred to the MMC while that by SEI was not. Sweb privately expects Southern to come back to the table if the US offer is referred.

News
Denny Miller in 1959 remake of Tarzan, the Ape Man
people
Arts and Entertainment
Cheryl despairs during the arena auditions
tvX Factor review: Drama as Cheryl and Simon spar over girl band

News
Piers Morgan tells Scots they might not have to suffer living on the same island as him if they vote ‘No’ to Scottish Independence
news
News
i100Exclusive interview with the British analyst who helped expose Bashar al-Assad's use of Sarin gas
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
Angel Di Maria celebrates his first goal for Manchester United against QPR
Football4-0 victory is team's first win under new manager Louis van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
art
News
newsIn short, yes
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script
tv'Thomas comes right up to the abyss', says the actor
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris claimed the top spot in this week's single charts
music
Sport
BoxingVideo: The incident happened in the very same ring as Tyson-Holyfield II 17 years ago
News
Groundskeeper Willie has backed Scottish independence in a new video
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor poses the question of whether we are every truly alone in 'Listen'
tvReview: Possibly Steven Moffat's most terrifying episode to date
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
i100
Life and Style
Cara Delevigne at the TopShop Unique show during London Fashion Week
fashion
News
The life-sized tribute to Amy Winehouse was designed by Scott Eaton and was erected at the Stables Market in Camden
peopleBut quite what the singer would have made of her new statue...
Sport
England's Andy Sullivan poses with his trophy and an astronaut after winning a trip to space
sport
News
peopleThe actress has agreed to host the Met Gala Ball - but not until 2015
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £280 - £320 p/d - 6 months

£280 - £320 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Senior BA - Insurance **URGENT**

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Training Coordinator / Resource Planner - City, London

£35000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Training Coordinator / Pl...

Data Governance Manager (Solvency II) – Contract – Up to £450 daily rate, 6 month (may go Permanent)

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently looking...

Day In a Page

These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week
The fall of Rome? Cash-strapped Italy accused of selling its soul to the highest bidder

The fall of Rome?

Italy's fears that corporate-sponsored restoration projects will lead to the Disneyfication of its cultural heritage
Glasgow girl made good

Glasgow girl made good

Kelly Macdonald was a waitress when she made Trainspotting. Now she’s taking Manhattan
Sequins ahoy as Strictly Come Dancing takes to the floor once more

Sequins ahoy as Strictly takes to the floor once more

Judy Murray, Frankie Bridge and co paired with dance partners
Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Alexander Wang pumps it up at New York Fashion Week
The landscape of my imagination

The landscape of my imagination

Author Kate Mosse on the place that taught her to tell stories