Outlook: Byers delivers the knock-out Punch
Thursday 15 July 1999
As corporate miscalculations go, this one takes some beating, and though it might seem both vindicative and bad spirited of Hugh Osmond's Punch to reduce its alternative offer in response, it would be perfectly within its rights to do so. This is a no holds barred brawl being fought outside the normal rules of the Takeover Code. If Mr Osmond wanted to bring Sir Christopher Hogg and others on the Allied board crashing down on their swords, there would be no better way of doing it.
With time called on Whitbread, Punch is the only offer left on the table. It is also a venture capital backed bid, and as a consequence Mr Osmond is bound to play hard ball on the price. For choice he would prefer Sir Christopher's recommendation, but by the same token he will wonder how much this is worth, given how badly Allied has misjudged events so far. Unless he's feeling magnanimous in victory, Mr Osmond is certain to reduce his offer to some degree.
It took guts as well as a little cheek for the Allied board to stick with Whitbread and recommend an offer which on paper was obviously inferior, but if there were reasonable grounds for doing so, they were that the Punch bid was both more uncertain and would take longer to go through. Both justifications have proved groundless.
To be fair on Allied, few expected Stephen Byers, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, to be as unequivocal in his decision to refer Whitbread to the Competition Commission as he was, least of all Punch. All the same, it seems extraordinary in an industry as prone to meddling by the competition authorities as the beerage, that both Whitbread and Allied could have been so oblivious to the regulatory risks.
Even after John Bridgeman, director general of fair trading, strode into the fight to declare that Whitbread's offer raised significant competition issues, directors continued to express confidence privately that the deal would sail through. Just how badly advised can you be?
elephant appealThe first 23 lots in our charity auction have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
The battle for control of Stieg Larsson's £30m legacy
Geoffrey Macnab does not like the comedian's big screen debut
Look beyond the usual shows for the best festive telly
Michelle Nijhuis' daughter insists (s)he is, and she learnt a valuable lesson on gender in books
newsFormer soldier taped 33 of the animals to the floor and then stamped on them one by one
Robin Thicke named sexist of the year 2013
PAs cleared of fraud - and Nigella Lawson left reeling at 'ridiculous sideshow' of drug allegations and public dissection of marriage to Charles Saatchi
Cycle death inquest: Boyfriend hugs driver of 32 tonne tipper truck that killed his girlfriend
Paul Walker death caused by speed alone
Apollo Theatre collapse: Scores injured after ceiling collapses in London's West End
- 1 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 2 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
- 3 Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
- 4 Cycle death inquest: Boyfriend hugs driver of 32 tonne tipper truck that killed his girlfriend
- 5 Burglar steals video tapes of child abuse, hands them into police
- < Previous
- Next >
iJobs Money & Business
£Negotiable: Citifocus: High calibre individual with institutional client serv...
£120000 - £150000 per annum: Cornwallis Elt : Programme Manager, Strategy Lead...
£55000 - £120000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: The Financial Services Tran...
£600 - £700 per day: Harrington Starr: Client based in West London is looking ...