View From City Road: Behind every successful man . . .

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The Independent Online
Bidding at the prevailing market price, even if it has already been inflated by takeover speculation, is usually a course doomed to failure. Shareholders invariably ask for a premium; bidders not prepared to pay it end up losing the prize.

However, in the case of yesterday's hostile pounds 364m bid by Browning-Ferris Industries for its British waste management rival Attwoods, the bidder begins with a head start. Laidlaw has agreed to sell Browning its 29.8 per cent stake at 109p a share, the price before the bid was made. It is tempting to conclude that the transaction was struck at that level because in a separate, side deal, Browning has agreed to sell Attwood's European portable sanitation business to Laidlaw after the deal goes through for the apparently depressed price of dollars 56.8m.

Laidlaw insists not, but then in the words of Mandy Rice-Davies, they would say that, wouldn't they? For those who do not know the connection, Ms Rice-Davies is married to Attwood's chief executive, Ken Foreman.

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