September 14, 2009 7:33 pm

JPMorgan counters EcoSecurities bid

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JPMorgan has offered £123m for EcoSecurities Group, the carbon trading company, topping a bid from Guanabara, a Dutch vehicle run by EcoSecurities’ former president.

Carbon Acquisition Company, a wholly owned subisidiary of JPMorgan, said that EcoSecurities directors will recommend that their shareholders accept the offer of 100p per share, and that their support amounted to 19.1 per cent of shares.

A fortnight ago, a bid from Guanabara at 90p a share earned the support of 25.5 per cent of shares.

The interest by the US investment bank – the fourth company this year to consider a takeover of Dublin-based EcoSecurities, manager of the most emission projects overseen by the UN – signals widening interest in the carbon trading market as the US considers a cap-and-trade programme.

EcoSecurities shares rose 11.54 per cent to 101.5p on Monday, more than 20 per cent above market value when bidding began on June 4.

Many analysts think the company is worth more, but JPMorgan said in the statement that EcoSecurities management’s agreement to Monday’s price was “irrevocable”, even if a higher price is offered.

Ken Rumph, an equity analyst at Nomura Code. said that this proviso, as well as the open assurance that the existing company structure would remain, suggested that “it looks like JPMorgan is backing the current management to take the business private”.

“It’s a scorched earth, blocking tactic (and) it’s a problem for Guanabara,” Mr Rumph said.

Guanabara Holdings, set up by EcoSecurities co-founder and former president Pedro Moura Costa, started bidding at 60p two months ago. Tricorona and EDF securities both entered the fray, but have since withdrawn.

Guanabara issued a statement on Monday saying it was reviewing its position and would make an announcement in due course.

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