View from City Road: Weinstock plays the game

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The Independent Online
Lord Weinstock must be loving the spectacle of everyone trying to second-guess his intentions over VSEL. Yet, as each day passes City opinion hardens towards accepting the logic that he should bid. There was speculation last night that a strike is imminent. The rumours emanating from Lord Weinstock's Stanhope Gate offices suggest that GEC's interest is not just another spoiling tactic.

GEC already owns Yarrow on the Clyde, and has expressed an interest in bidding for Devonport, the Plymouth dockyard that VSEL also wants to buy.

Devonport will refit the Trident submarines that VSEL makes. But the chief prize would be the pounds 2.5bn Trafalgar submarine contract that is almost certainly to be placed with VSEL next year. Buying the Barrow-in-Furness yard would be pin money for GEC, which could easily afford the pounds 13.50 a share many believe it would have to offer. Standing in its way, however, is the Ministry of Defence. Lord Weinstock has proved an adept political player before. There seems no reason to believe he cannot play the government game again.

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