Triplex Lloyd shares soar on takeover approach

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The Independent Online
Shares in Triplex Lloyd soared 15 per cent to 263.5p yesterday after the engineering group revealed it was in talks which could lead to a bid being made for the company at about 280p a share.

Speculation about a possible bid for Triplex has been raging for several days. The predator is rumoured to be Doncasters, the Derbyshire-based aerospace and industrial engineer whose shares are quoted on the New York Stock Exchange.

However Ian Dillamore, Doncaster's chairman, refused to comment on the speculation. "I have nothing to say. There is no present or impending announcement," he said.

According to sources close to Triplex Lloyd, discussions are continuing but a deal is not imminent.

Speculation about a bid for Triplex Lloyd has been continuing since July, when chief executive Graham Lockyer left the group over disagreements about strategy. The shares promptly touched a new low of 154p. However, they soon rebounded as bid rumours swirled around the market, forcing the company to announce in October that it had been in talks that had subsequently ended after the two parties were unable to agree a price.

Triplex's strategy has been in tatters since the group's attempt to buy William Cook, the castings group, failed when its offer was trumped by a managment bid backed by venture capital group Electra Fleming. Triplex had argued that the acquisition would give it the critical mass it needed to compete in global markets. The group' s exports have also been hurt by the strong pound.

Triplex has yet to find a permanent replacement for Lockyer. Finance director Bob Mitchell has been acting chief executive since July.

Analysts suggested that investors would be happy to accept an offer pitched at 280p a share, but stressed that the company was basically sound. Despite the pressures of currency, recent interim results were ahead of expectations, prompting brokers to upgrade full-year profit forecasts to pounds 17m.