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Unrest grows over Lucas move to US

LUCASVARITY, the Anglo-US car parts and aerospace group, is to meet major shareholders next week in a bid to quell growing unrest over its plan to move its headquarters and stock market listing from London to New York, writes Francesco Guerrera.

The decision to see the UK institutions came as the company rebutted a sharp attack on the move by Sir Brian Pearse, former chairman. The group, formed in 1996 by the merger of Lucas Industries and Varity of the US, said Sir Brian had agreed to the move in April when he was still chairman.

Management is likely to be given a hostile reception by major UK shareholders, including Schroders, Mercury Asset Management, Prudential and Legal & General.

The institutions were caught off guard by the announcement last month that LucasVarity would move its headquarters from London to Buffalo and its primary listing to Wall Street. The company said the move would allow it to compete more effectively with US-based rivals. It said the majority of its shareholders were now American.

The UK shareholders, led by the Association of British Insurers (ABI), fear the move may harm their investments.