Tug of war over Break for the Border

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The Independent Online
BREAK FOR the Border, the UK bar and restaurants group, was yesterday locked in intensive and drawn out discussions to plan its response to a pre-conditional offer for the group made by Thomas Read Holdings on Friday. A source last night said the talks could go on until the early hours of the morning.

On Thursday Break for the Border rejected an initial approach from the Irish hotels and restaurants operator, priced at 45p a share. Thomas Read then raised the cash offer to 50p a share, valuing the company at pounds 16.78m.

Both approaches were dependent on the UK company agreeing to adjourn an egm, scheduled for today, to approve the acquisition of six bars and two hotels in Dublin. Break for the Border said its planned entry into the profitable Dublin leisure market would threaten Thomas Read's market share, prompting speculation that the Irish group's approaches, neither of which represent a firm offer, were made in an effort to scupper the previously announced deal.

It is understood that a group of Break for the Border's institutional investors, led by Edinburgh Fund Managers and Gartmore Venture Capital Trust, have put pressure on the company to delay the egm, a move that could lead to the collapse of the group's pounds 14.63m acquisition of the Irish venues from Liam and Des O'Dwyer, both non-executive directors of the UK company.

Break for the Border plans to seek a secondary listing on the Irish stock exchange and change its name to Capital Bars if the deal goes ahead. Liam O'Dwyer is set to become chief executive of the enlarged group.