Tiphook soars on bid talk: Television claim triggers buying on both sides of Atlantic

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SHARES in Tiphook rose sharply on both sides of the Atlantic as speculation grew that the troubled transport rental group was a takeover target.

A 47p rise to 244p in London followed heavy trading on Wall Street after the popular American share tipster Dan Dorfman reported that Tiphook was seriously undervalued and that predators were circling.

Tiphook's embattled chairman, Robert Montague, immediately denied he was in bid talks. He was due to speak to US investors on a telephone link-up last night and reaffirm that the company would pay a final dividend as planned. Market rumour has linked Tiphook, whose recent accounting changes and profits warning have hit the share price, to TransAmerica, GE Capital and GATX.

Mr Montague has been under pressure in the UK as disillusioned investors have watched the group's shares halve in less than two years. Two falls - ahead of a profits warning in April and this month's proposed accounting changes - heightened concern. 'Feeling towards Tiphook is seriously negative,' one London analyst said. A spokeswoman yesterday rejected calls to strengthen the number of non-executive directors.

Mr Montague has increasingly looked to Wall Street for support, and the accounting changes - Tiphook will report in dollars - are designed to reflect the rising number of US shareholders. Shares held as American depositary receipts rose from 2 per cent in 1991 to 50 per cent. About 65 per cent of Tiphook's pounds 1.15bn borrowings are in the US.

The New York surge was sparked when a fund manager from Brandywine Asset Management told Mr Dorfman on a television business programme that Tiphook was worth at least dollars 20 per ADR, equating to more than 400p per UK share.

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