Wolves launches bid for Morland

WOLVERHAMPTON & DUDLEY Breweries, the UK's largest regional outfit, yesterday launched a pounds 173m takeover offer for its rival Morland, trumping an agreed bid from Greene King.

Wolverhampton is offering 256p in cash and 0.4238 new shares, valuing each Morland share at 512 p. The offer is at a 12 per cent premium to Greene King's agreed pounds 145m cash and stock offer, which values each Morland share at 445p.

Wolverhampton said it would close Morland's brewery in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, and transfer production to its own breweries at Wolverhampton and Burton- on-Trent. Greene King also plans to close the country's second oldest brewery with the loss of 100 jobs and take production to Bury St Edmunds.

Wolverhampton plans to seek a recommendation from Morland's board and has received acceptances from shareholders with 21.97 per cent of Morland shares. Morland was not available for comment. Greene King's board was meeting to discuss the offer yesterday. It made an abortive bid for Morland seven years ago.