Swissair pressed to table bid for Allders

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Pressure mounted yesterday on Swissair actually to table its proposed pounds 145m offer for Allders International or withdraw from the increasingly acrimonious battle for control of the duty free shop operator, writes Tom Stevenson. Shareholders are due to vote on 10 June on BAA's recommended pounds 130m bid, currently the only firm offer.

It emerged yesterday that early approaches from BAA had put a value of only pounds 100m on the tax-free retailing chain, while approaches from Swissair had swung from an initial pricetag of pounds 200m to a tentative offer of pounds 120m before the airline proposed an offer of pounds 145m.

Confusion about the value of the business, which lost pounds 1m in the six months to March, has focused attention on the fiduciary duty of Allders' management to accept the best offer for its shareholders. Allders claims it has done its duty by securing pounds 130m for a business which has an uncertain future after the abolition of duty free within Europe after 1999. Swissair says it has been locked out, despite being prepared to offer pounds 15m more than BAA's bid.

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