Words fly as Owners airs its case

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The Independent Online
THE release yesterday of the Owners Abroad defence document against the pounds 220m takeover bid from Airtours fuelled an acrimonious exchange between the two camps, writes John Shepherd.

The second and third-largest holiday companies in the UK questioned each other's ability to tell the truth.

Owners said Airtours' previous claim that it had rejected a similar commercial proposal to its own, recently announced, plan to link with Thomas Cook, the travel agency, was untrue.

Not so, said David Crossland, chairman of Airtours. 'People from Cook approached us. The trade-off was to give us utilisation of their excess airline space in Germany. It was very similar.'

Owners called the bid defensive and opportunistic. Airtours said the defence document was 'predictably weak'.

Shares in Airtours fell 3p to 298p, valuing each Owners share at slightly less than 112p, against an unchanged market price of 115p.