Photobition targets Wace with pounds 42m bid

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The Independent Online
PHOTOBITION, the aggressive graphics group, yesterday launched a hostile bid for Wace, its troubled rival, valuing each Wace share at 52.6p and the entire company at pounds 41.7m, writes Peter Thal Larsen.

The offer was unanimously rejected by Wace's board as offering "inadequate value" to its shareholders, and it advised them not to take any action.

Photobition proposes merging its operations with Wace in a move to create a world leader in digital services with a network covering the UK, Europe, US, Australia and Hong Kong.

Eddie Marchbanks, Photobition chief executive, said he had approached Wace's management. "We had lunch about three weeks ago and I said we would be interested in bidding at a certain level. But they never got back to me."

A deal would almost certainly lead to job losses. Wace has 2,000 employees, about 500 in the UK. Photobition, which has roughly the same turnover, employs 1,050. "There may be a good reason why they have so many more staff, but I've got to get inside and have a look before I can answer that question," Mr Marchbanks said.

Wace shares jumped 10p to 51.5p, while shares in Photobition, which launched a pounds 69m share placing to help fund any deal, dipped 1p to 239p.