Takeover Panel raps BET

The Takeover Panel yesterday publicly rapped BET for misleading investors in a statement rejecting the higher bid for the group announced by Rentokil on Thursday. Indicating the seriousness with which it viewed the matter, the City watchdog issued a rare public reprimand criticising BET for not making a valid comparison between its share price and the value of the new offer.

The announcement from BET on Thursday valued Rentokil's revised offer at 209.8p a share, excluding a promised dividend of 4p, and claimed that it represented an increase of just 1.1 percent over the previous night's closing price. The Panel executive said it was "not satisfied that this was a valid comparison to have made because an offer value ex the BET dividend was compared with a BET share price which was cum all future dividends." BET has already forecast a final dividend of 3.7p for last year, which is deemed to be included in its share price.

Had the comparison been made between Rentokil's increased offer and BET's share price prior to the the announcement of the new offer the increase would have been 3.01 per cent, the Panel said. It called on BET not to make further comparisons based on the value of Rentokil's increased offer excluding the BET dividend.