SCI directors fly from US to save Great Southern bid

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DIRECTORS of Service Corporation International will today fly in from the US in a last-ditch attempt to rescue its its pounds 87m takeover bid for Great Southern, the funeral business, writes John Shepherd.

The bid has been rejected outright by members of EJ Field, a private company made up of family trusts which control around 56 per cent of Southern. SCI has until Saturday, the 46th day of the bid, to decide whether to increase its terms of 600p a share.

City watchers were disappointed by the defence document released by Southern on Friday.

Some said, however, that the tone of the document could be a ploy to deter SCI from increasing its bid significantly. Most trustees of investments are legally bound to maximise income, making it more difficult to reject bids.

Southern's shares soared 138p to 608p when SCI made its bid early last month. At the start of the year they were trading at 445p.

SCI has found it difficult to find takers for its offer. At the first closing date in mid-June it had acceptances for 0.11 per cent to add to its purchase of a 2 per cent holding.