You have to hand it to Sir Nigel Rudd – he has finally managed to get an auction going to Alliance Boots, which he chairs. Not only did he secure a firm deal from Stefano Pessina and KKR at £10.90, a 35 per cent premium to the undisturbed share price; this morning he also received a proposal from Guy Hands’ Terra Firma, Wellcome Trust and HBoS at £11.26 (£11.15 if you deduct the break fee that would go to KKR, I think). That is a very respectable 40 per cent premium. But it doesn’t look like the end of the matter: Boots shares have shot through the latest offer to touch £11.36.
Rudd has been in quite a difficult position, faced as he was with Pessina, his executive deputy chairman, strategic mastermind and largest shareholder, bidding for the company and saying he would leave if he failed. But Hands and his team don’t seem to care about Pessina. Incidentally, FT Alphaville says Merrill Lynch, acting for KKR and Pessina, attempted a dawn raid this morning but, not surprisingly, they got almost nowhere.
Good news for RBS in its attempt to bid for ABN Amro. The Dutch finance ministry seems to have come down on the central bank governor, Nout Wellink, who this week warned against ABN Amro being taken over the RBS-led consortium. Finance minister Wouter Bos said the remarks were based on an “annoying misunderstanding”. ”Wellink has reassured me that he will be objective and unbiased,” Bos said during a visit to Berlin today, ANP-Reuters reported. ”He is mainly concerned about an orderly bidding process.”
It seems hard to believe, but BP has had another safety emergency at Texas City: 90 workers were taken to hospital, complaining of eye irritation and nausea. We have since learnt that all workers have been released as the refinery is operating as normal. And in fact, the more we have looked into this today, the more it looks like a complete non-story. So don’t expect to see it in the paper tomorrow.
WPP announced first-quarter revenues affected by the dollar’s decline against sterling. Group revenues declined to £1.37bn but rose 6.3 per cent on a constant currency basis. In North America, its largest market, revenues were down by 5.1 per cent at £531.6m, reflecting the 11 per cent decline in the dollar against sterling.