January 18: Reg Vardy revs its engine

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It’s hard to compete with the early closure of the Tokyo Stock Exchange for drama but there are plenty of good British corporate stories around today.

We’re hoping for more today on the increasingly exciting bid battle for Reg Vardy, the car dealership group. Yesterday afternoon, Lookers bid 875p a share – 75p higher than the previous bid from Pendragon. However, as we wrote this morning, Sir Peter Vardy has to accept Pendragon’s 800p because of an irrevocable call option he has already granted. This could cost him £7m on the current terms. What an extraordinary outbreak of selflessness: in the same week, Sir Peter and Sir Richard Branson accept large discounts to what other shareholders will get in order for their companies to be taken over. Reg Vardy shares, incidentally, are now at 900p – indicating that investors expect Pendragon to return with more.

There’s an interesting statement from Monsoon: founder, boss and leading shareholder Peter Simon has been forced by the Takeover Panel to confirm that he is still considering making an offer for the whole company. He has been considering this for six months. Earlier this week the group issued a thinly-veiled profits warning.

Yet more bad news from Woolworths. A decent Christmas trading statement was overshadowed by news that a contract to supply CDs and DVDs to Tesco may not be renewed this year and that changes to the way it accounts for rent may hit profits this year. The stock is down almost 10 per cent.

We’re hoping for more later on British Airways’ meeting with unions to discuss pensions, voluntary redundancy terms etc.

And I noted this morning stories on Pilkington being about to receive another offer from Nippon Sheet Glass. Our firm view is that, yes, both sides are still talking, as we have said, but we could still be at least a couple of weeks away from a deal.

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