Nurdin rejects Dutch approach

BY NIGEL COPE

The future of Nurdin & Peacock, the cash and carry operator that sold its Cargo Club branches to Sainsbury last week, was thrown into confusion yesterday when SHV, the Dutch group that operates the Makro chain, tried to win control without launching a full bid.

SHV, which holds a 14 per cent stake in Nurdin, announced that it had made an approach to the troubled British group suggesting that Nurdin acquire the UK Makro business from SHV in exchange for shares in the enlarged group. The Dutch company also proposed a cash payment to Nurdin shareholders, possibly a special dividend. SHV stated categorically that it did not intend to make a full bid for the company.

Nurdin rejected the offer, saying it was not in the interests of its investors to become minority shareholders in a company controlled from overseas. It also criticised the approach, saying it was short on detail. Richard Fulford, Nurdin chairman, said: "If SHV has serious proposals to put to us, we will consider them."

Yesterday's announcement refers to an offer made by SHV earlier this year, after Nurdin issued a profits warning in January that resulted in a slide in the share price and renewed speculation that the company could become a takeover target.

The Dutch group said it had made its earlier offer public to stir up debate among Nurdin's shareholders. SHV said a merger would give the enlarged group a 20 per cent share of the UK cash and carry market and offer improved economies of scale in buying, distribution and information technology. "We think we can make a stronger business in a non-growth market," SHV said. "Let the shareholders decide." Michael Peacock, former Nurdin chairman, and his family still control 28 per cent of the company's shares.

Nurdin has been changing its traditional cash and carry operations to other formats such as the Trade and Business Warehouse, which carries office supplies. The shares rose 12p yesterday to 183p.

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