Outlook: Wassall should put up or shut up
Thursday 08 April 1999
However, the stand-off with Wassall, for all the sound and fury generated yesterday, remains firmly in the category of a phoney war. Chris Miller, who runs this wannabe venture capital trust, has been creeping up on BICC for the past six months, and his tanks are now firmly on Mr Jones's lawn.
He has built a 10 per cent stake and he has made two indicative approaches. His sighting shot was at 90p. He then wrote to the BICC board again (at 6.00pm the night before Good Friday, incidentally) indicating that he was prepared to raise his offer to 110p. But he has not formally tabled a bid and has no intention of doing so unless he has a recommendation from the BICC board in his back pocket. The expense of going hostile is the ultimate deterrent.
In the absence of such a recommendation (and why should this turkey vote for Christmas?), Mr Miller is asking BICC's other shareholders to turn the thumbscrews and force Mr Jones back to the negotiating table.
Mr Jones has other ideas; he has decided to adopt the scorched-earth approach. Since Wassall first appeared on the share register last November, he has sold off virtually all BICC's cable interests, netting pounds 388m of cash in the process and wiping out the group's debts. If the sale announced yesterday of the energy cables business to a US buyer goes through, then there will only be Balfour Beatty to get hold of.
Shareholders in BICC may have had plenty to complain of in the past, but their spirits have been lifted of late. Since Wassall began circling and BICC began selling, the share price has risen by close on 90 per cent. Mr Jones says that is because the market backs his strategy. Mr Miller says it reflects the bid premium in BICC. However, until a formal bid is tabled, there is no way of testing who is right. It is time for Wassall to put up or shut up.
- 1 Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
- 2 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 3 US? China? India? The 10 biggest economies in 2030 will be...
- 4 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
General Election 2015: David Cameron catching up in polls – but he badly needs a clear lead
Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
South Africa xenophobic attacks: Shops looted and violence on streets of Johannesburg as foreigners are forced to hide in police stations
18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
iJobs Money & Business
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...
£50000 - £667000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / ...
£13000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...
£40000 - £45000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manag...