Outlook: No thank you, Mr Decaux

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The Independent Online
PERHAPS it was just wishful thinking that we had seen the final salvoes in the tussle for control of More Group. Or perhaps we Anglo-Saxons simply take a more cautious views of these matters. Either way, few observers expected Decaux, More's French rival, to soldier after its bid for More was referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission last Thursday.

Soldier on, however, is precisely what chief executive Jean-Francois Decaux is doing - egged on no doubt by his fee-hungry advisers. Mr Decaux is so convinced that the MMC will ignore last week's advice from the Office of Fair Trading and clear his bid that he is willing to devote a great deal of time, effort and money to find out.

Should More shareholders have the same patience? Decaux has offered 1220p, which is 110p more than the final bid from Clear Channel, the US group. Given that investors will have to wait at least five months for the higher offer, however, it is worth only about 1160p in today's money. This means that Decaux is offering an extra 50p - or 6 per cent - to compensate for the risk that the MMC will block the deal. Given the strong arguments against Decaux's offer being allowed to proceed, the sum does not look tempting enough. Shareholders should accept Clear Channel's cash and be done with it.