Sketchley rejects mystery bidder

Sketchley, the troubled dry cleaning group, has rejected a tentative approach from a mystery bidder and is seeking clarification of the bidder's position. The predator made an approach to some of Sketchley's institutional investors in the last few days though some yesterday described the proposals as "somewhat unclear". Sketchley's shares shot up 10p to 56p on the news.

Sketchley has been in trouble for the last two years and reported a pounds 4m loss in 1997 after a black hole in its accounts revealed pounds 11m of losses. It is expected to announced some disposals next week which could include the main high street dry cleaning chain. The company is keen on concentrating on its profitable workwear rental division and its recently acquired ARM division which maintains ducts for utilities groups. Sketchley said that, pending clarification of the potential bidder's intentions, it recommended shareholders to "take no action".

Sketchley has been a dreadful performer of late and passed its full-year dividend in July and its half year payout in December. One institutional investor said: "Sketchley is an undoubted shambles but it is trying to do something to sort itself out."

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