Setback for Hasbro in Scrabble war

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The Independent Online
THE BATTLE over Scrabble looks set to intensify following a court ruling that a pounds 52m bid for JW Spear from Mattel was validly made before the deadline set by Hasbro, which has offered pounds 46.9m, writes Heather Connon.

Hasbro said it was considering its options, including the possibility of an appeal. Trusts holding 24.9 per cent of the shares, which had accepted Hasbro's bid until Mattel's rival offer emerged, have said they will not accept any offer apart from Hasbro's until after Thursday, to allow Hasbro time to make up its mind.

Hasbro, the US toymaker which owns Sindy and Action Man, had stipulated that the trusts' acceptances became irrevocable if no rival offer was made within three working days. Mattel - owner of the rival Barbie doll - delivered its bid to the Stock Exchange five minutes before the deadline.

Hasbro, however, argued that Stock Exchange rules required details of the offer to be delivered to two national newspapers or wire services, if the exchange was closed. Mattel did not do this, so Hasbro claimed the offer was not launched until the following morning. The High Court ruled that the bid was properly made.

Hasbro is widely expected to increase its offer. It owns the US rights to Scrabble and is keen to add Britain, Europe and Australia - owned by JW Spear - to its portfolio.