Trans World spurns Emap offer

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THE BOARD of Trans World Communications, together with one of the radio group's largest shareholders, yesterday rejected a possible 181p-a-share offer from Emap, the publishing company.

The Manchester-based radio group said the price failed to offer an adequate premium for control. It also warned that the pounds 71m bid could be subject to a legal challenge, and advised shareholders to take no action for the moment.

Emap, which owns 29.6 per cent of Trans World, has yet to make a formal offer. But it is assured of winning control if it does. Owen Oyston, the entrepreneur and the radio group's second-biggest shareholder with 22 per cent, has irrevocably agreed to accept 181p a share from Emap up to 22 June. Emap has also said it will not offer more than 181p if it does bid.

Emap, which owns several radio licences, plans to get around the rules limiting the number a group can control by moving some into a specially created company. It will own 49 per cent of the equity with an option to buy the rest for a nominal sum.

The Radio Authority has given this arrangement its seal of approval as not constituting 'control'. But its ruling seems certain to be challenged by Guardian Media, part of the Guardian newspaper group, which has made little secret of the fact it would also like to buy Trans World.

It has a 20 per cent stake in the company, but is barred from bidding because the rules prevent national newspapers from controlling local radio licences.

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