Nottingham Forest shareholders reject bid

Team line-up in the takeover battle for a slice of Premiership action
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The Independent Online
The battle for control of Nottingham Forest looked set to drag on for several more weeks last night after the club's shareholders rejected a pounds 13m takeover bid by a consortium led by Sandy Anderson, the Porterbrook Leasing chief executive. Mr Anderson's failure to gain the required 75 per cent majority opens the door for rival bidders.

The meeting, which finished at 10pm, ended a day of frantic manoeuvring by the rival bid groups as they attempted to woo potential new investors as well as the club's 209 shareholders.

The bid battle took an early twist yesterday when one of the bidders switched camps just hours ahead of the crunch vote.

As shareholders travelled to Forest's City Ground to vote on the Anderson offer, Blenheim Exhibitions founder Lawrie Lewis threw his weight behind the Anderson faction. Mr Lewis had previously pulled out of a rival group bidding for Forest which included former Tottenham chairman Irving Scholar and local businessman Phil Soar. Yesterday Mr Lewis offered to inject pounds 3m in cash into Forest in return for a minority shareholding in the Anderson group.

The Irving Scholar-Phil Soar camp, which has already lined up Burford Holdings chairman Nigel Wray, attended the meeting to distribute leaflets to Forest shareholders.

Marjorie Scardino, Pearson's chief executive, yesterday denied any formal involvement with the Wray bid. But she admitted that her husband, Albert, was acting as a "scout" to attract US and Canadian investors to the consortium.

Though the new Pearson chief clearly has more than a passing interest in the Forest situation, she stressed that the involvement of the Scardino household was separate from her role at Pearson. Mr Scardino was in Nottingham last night. "I have no formal involvement but I am very interested and may end up investing in one of more of the consortia," he said.

Meanwhile Grant Bovey, the video entrepreneur, will renew his bid claim today after receiving backing from the Dixon Corporation, a European construction group owned by an Andorran-based company. He is offering to lend Forest the cash to complete the purchase of Nigel Clough from Manchester City. He also pledges to increase his previous offer to a pounds 15m cash injection on completion and a further pounds 5m to shareholders. A further pounds 10m would be available in the close season, he said.

The Anderson consortium may well come back with an increased offer. If it eventually succeeds, it is expected he will quit as a director of Stagecoach, the company which acquired Porterbrook last year, to become Forest's chief executive.

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