Takeover Panel throws out GUS appeal

THE TAKEOVER Panel yesterday unanimously dismissed an appeal by Great Universal Stores relating to its successful pounds 1.9bn bid for Argos last year.

The panel ruled that GUS had no right to appeal against an earlier decision by the panel's executive, which said that the Argos board and its advisers had not breached the code on takeovers during the bid and had not made statements that were misleading.

The panel said GUS had missed the one-month deadline for such appeals and that it should have been told as much by advisers. "The right of appeal must have been well known to GUS (and certainly to its advisers) at the time and yet they did not appeal," the panel said.

It is understood that GUS's chairman, Lord Wolfson, will not now carry out his threat to take legal action against the former Argos directors and the company's advisers, Schroders. It is also considered unlikely he will take his case to the Department of Trade and Industry and House of Lords, as he had previously suggested.

However, GUS was unbowed yesterday, saying it still had several appeals outstanding with the panel over the Argos deal. Lord Wolfson said: "We believe that statements made by Argos during the course of the bid did not conform to these [the panel's] rules. To be ruled out of time, with the result that such substantive issues will not be reviewed by the panel, seems to us to be unreasonable."

The ruling comes a year to the day after GUS launched its hostile bid for Argos. After it won with its raised pounds 1.9bn offer, Lord Wolfson, complained to the panel that Argos's then directors and advisers had breached the rules with certain claims in the bid process.

The complaints centred on claims made regarding the performance of the Argos stores in Holland and plans for a home delivery operation.

The former Argos directors, including chief executive Stuart Rose, and Schroders, its advisers, denied any breach and this view was upheld by the panel's executive.

GUS went on the offensive yesterday by disclosing Schroders' pounds 5.7m fixed fee for the Argos defence, with an additional 2.5 per cent of any value offered over 625p a share. It further questioned whether it was right that an additional pounds 1.5bn would be payable in the event of a successful defence against a hostile bid.

The panel said it would look at such "success fees" as well as the time period for complaints.

GUS's aggressive actions have surprised many in the City, who saw them as vindictive.

Some have seen them as an attempt to find another party to blame after paying pounds 1.9bn for a retail group at the peak of the market just ahead of a fall in consumer spending.

Lord Wolfson has said he was acting on a "point of principle" and that he was seeking "a red card" for the Argos team and for the panel's rules to be tightened up.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Graduate Application Support Analyst

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Reach Volunteering: External Finance Trustee Needed!

Voluntary post, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Would you ...

Christine McCleave: FP&A Analyst

£36,000 - £40,000: Christine McCleave: Are you looking for a new opportunity a...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot