Two US companies target Sheffield Forgemasters

Sheffield Forgemasters, the engineering and aerospace group which became embroiled in the Iraqi "supergun" scandal in the late 1980s, has received a takeover offer from two US rivals. Analysts believe the US groups have offered around pounds 100m.

The deal will produce another big pay day for Stuart Wallis, the group's chairman who became a millionaire when Fisons, the drugs group where he was chief executive, was taken over by Rhone Poulenc Rorer in 1995. Mr Wallis said last night: "I have some shares in the business. If a job is well done, I would expect to receive a little reward."

Other directors of Forgemasters, who according to Mr Wallis own "a substantial minority of the shares", also stand to receive a large profit as do 400 employees who each own a stake in the business.

The two bids were prompted by Forgemasters' decision last summer to split itself in two by demerging its aerospace and engineering divisions into separate companies as a forerunner to flotation.

Allegheny Teledyne Incorporated, a $4bn Pittsburgh-based metals and aerospace group, is buying the engineering arm of Forgemasters. Atchison Casting Corporation of Kansas has put in an offer for the aerospace business of around pounds 55m.

Forgemasters was ultimately exonerated for its alleged role in making parts for Saddam Hussein's Iraqi supergun.