Scant response to Cowie's bid

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The Independent Online
T COWIE, the Sunderland-based motor dealer, has won a low level of acceptances in its hostile pounds 22.7m bid for its rival, Henlys.

The takeover reached its second closing date yesterday and the all-paper offer - which is unchanged since its launch at the end of June - is extended to this Friday. Acceptances recorded yesterday were for 0.71 per cent of the shares.

Under takeover rules Cowie has until next Tuesday to increase its offer if it wants to. The value of the offer has fallen as the price of Cowie shares has dropped in line with the stock market. At the outset the terms valued Henlys at pounds 28m.

The Cowie offer values each Henlys share at 60p, but Henlys shares closed unchanged at 69p yesterday, reinforcing expectations that Cowie will have to improve the terms to win control.

Henlys confirmed yesterday financial forecasts made in an initial bid defence. It lost pounds 900,000 before tax in the six months to 30 June, recovering from losses of pounds 4.5m last time.

Henlys has car dealerships and a coach-building business. The coach operation continues to make losses, but the motor division increased profits by 77 per cent to pounds 3.3m. Despite the losses, Henlys is paying a maintained dividend of 1p, and promised to pay 2p at the year-end, making an unchanged 3p total.