Watts Blake Bearne escapes sale of 45% shareholding

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The Independent Online
WATTS Blake Bearne, the world's largest supplier of ball clay for toilets and fine china, yesterday appeared to have escaped imminent takeover when the concert party that owns

45 per cent of its shares announced that it was abandoning its attempt to sell the stake, writes Heather Connon.

Ceramic Holdings, a Lebanese- owned company, triggered discussions about selling in January when it said that it wanted to dispose of its 15.6 per cent stake. Under a concert party agreement, signed in 1991, the two other members of the concert party - Sibelco of Belgium and Quarzwerke of Germany - were forced to do the same. Yesterday, however, the concert party announced that the search for a buyer had ended. Francis Jackson, of Schroders, which was advising the concert party, said: 'There have been a number of discussions and meetings with a number of parties and with the company itself. But at the end of the day, we couldn't get to a satisfactory position.'

John Pike, managing director of Watts Blake Bearne, welcomed yesterday's announcement. But the group's shares, which touched a high of 470p shortly after the sale discussion was announced, closed down 10p at 420p.

It is believed that the concert party agreement stipulated that, if Ceramics was offered less than 433p a share, the other two parties could purchase the stake.