'Sids' hold key to Manweb bid

MARY FAGAN

Industrial Correspondent

Tomorrow is the final day in the battle for control of Chester-based Manweb by Scottish Power, and the balance of power could well lie with the thousands of private investors who control about 25 per cent of the regional firm.

This is the first hostile bid for a major UK utility to reach such a crucial stage and the first in which there is real power in the hands of "Sid".

To woo them, Scottish Power has taken prime-time television advertising, including slots during Coronation Street, Blind Date, the Gladiators and The Bill.

An army of 200 people at the Bank of Scotland in Edinburgh has been primed to count an anticipated last-minute surge of acceptances on tomorrow's close of the pounds 9.90 offer by the Scottish group.

While the hope is that all small shareholders will succumb to the pounds 1.1bn deal, privately it is admitted that a last- minute stampede could prove a logistical nightmare.

Scottish Power has become increasingly concerned to win over Manweb's 110,000 private investors, who control 25 per cent of the company's equity. The average holding is about 300 shares, which at the cash offer price are worth almost pounds 3,000.

So far, about 15,000 individuals are thought to have taken up the offer. But Manweb is confident that the bulk of its small investors, many of whom also live in its Merseyside and North Wales territory, will stay on board.

John Roberts, Manweb's chief executive, said: ''Many of these are valued customers and have a strong sense of loyalty to both the company and the region. We believe they will back us."

The Scottish camp argues - as do most predators in the electricity industry - that the regional issue is overstated.

Scottish Power tightened its grip on the distribution and supply company yesterday, buying more than 5m shares and taking its stake to 26.2 per cent.

Manweb's shares fell by 1p to 991p and Scottish Power's rose by 2p to 350.5p.

The bid moved towards its close as takeover fever continued to grip the City, with speculation that Yorkshire Electricity, worth about pounds 1.7bn, will be the next to fall. Rumours earlier in the week had centred on London, which would have a price tag nearer to pounds 2bn.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Software Development Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: Product Manager - (Product Marketing, Financial Services)

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Assistant

£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...

Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...

Day In a Page

Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing