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Swissair bids for Allders

Swissair went on the offensive in the bid battle for the duty-free business Allders International yesterday when it wrote to Allders shareholders seeking support for its pounds 145m offer. The move comes less than a week before Allders is to hold an emergency meeting to ask shareholders to approve an agreed pounds 130m offer for the business from BAA.

Swissair says that, subject to receiving support from shareholders representing 40 per cent of Allders ordinary shares, it will make a pounds 145m offer with conditions similar to those of the BAA deal. The letter asks shareholders to vote against the BAA deal and in favour of the Swissair proposal in due course. It has asked for a response from Allders shareholders by the end of today.

Allders advised its shareholders not to respond to the letter "pending clarifications of the respective positions of Swissair and BAA".

BAA issued a statement saying: "We understand Swissair have said they will now make a seventh conditional offer, albeit of no greater value and with no more guarantees than the others. However, we will consider the matter in the morning."

It is possible BAA may raise its offer rather than risk seeing its proposal voted down in favour of Swissair's offer.

The Swissair move is a welcome one for Allders which already has an agreed deal of pounds 130m from BAA but could now find the offer increased as the prospect of an auction nears.