Yorkshire interests US firms

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The Independent Online
Shares in Yorkshire Electricity moved up sharply amidst rumours that a bid for the company would emerge early next week, writes Mary Fagan.

Speculation centred on General Public Utilities, the New Jersey-based utility which is also said to have talked to Midlands Electricity with a view to a takeover. But another US firm, Houston Industries, is thought to be on the prowl.

One City analyst said that a bid for Yorkshire could come in at pounds 8 per share, valuing the company at just over pounds 1.2bn. "With the share price moving as it is, time is of the essence. There is absolutely no reason to delay," he said.

Yorkshire's shares rose by 16p yesterday to pounds 7.52 and those in Midlands edged up by 1p to pounds 3.89. Midlands Electricity was the subject of an agreed pounds 1.95bn offer by the generator, PowerGen, until it was referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. The MMC, which is also investigating a proposed takeover of Southern Electric by National Power, has until 22 March to submit its report to the Government.

A few weeks ago there was also a suggestion that Midlands would discuss a friendly merger with Southern Electric, the distribution company in the South of England. But Midlands said then there was no immediate prospect of an offer.

Market report, page 18