US firm takes court action to block GUS bid for Metromail

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The Independent Online
GREAT Universal Stores' planned pounds 500m acquisition of an American direct marketing company was thrown into doubt last night after American Business Information said it was seeking an injunction to block the merger agreement.

The company said its suit alleged certain officers and directors of Metromail failed to hold a fair auction of the company, and therefore breached their fiduciary duty to shareholders. American Business holds about 1 million Metromail shares.

American Business yesterday tabled an $850m (pounds 515m) offer, trumping GUS's $831 bid, agreed by Metromail's board.

The US company, whose offer is worth $33 a share, said it had previously given Metromail's board letters stating its intention to buy Metromail shares for more than $32 a share, subject to completion of due diligence. It had not completed the due diligence process when the GUS agreement was announced, according to the statement.

Under a confidentiality agreement, American Business could not make a tender offer without the consent of the Metromail board, it said.

American Business provides business information products and data processing services in the US and Canada.