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Barr Ellison Solicitors – commercial property
16 June, 2006 - 08:21 By Staff Reporter

Bidding war lifts ABP offer to £2.6bn

A bidding war has been triggered over Associated British Ports – owner of Ipswich, King’s Lynn and Lowestoft ports in the East of England – after a rival group led by Australia’s Macquarie Bank matched a Goldman Sachs consortium offer.A bidding war has been triggered over Associated British Ports – owner of Ipswich, King’s Lynn and Lowestoft ports in the East of England – after a rival group led by Australia’s Macquarie Bank matched a Goldman Sachs consortium offer.

The bid battle has seen the offer price from both competing consortia pushed up to £2.6bn.

Goldman Sachs' Admiral revealed it had raised its bid to 840 pence per share, just 24 hours after it reached agreement with ABP for a takeover at 810p.

The move was designed to stave off a rival bid from the consortium including Macquarie, the UK venture capital group, 3i, The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Australia's Industry Funds Management.

ABP then confirmed that it had also received a pre-conditional proposal from the Macquarie consortium matching the Goldman Sachs bid.

“The board is currently evaluating the Macquarie consortium's proposal in light of the revised cash offer from Admiral,” an ABP statement said. ABP’s shares jumped around 6 per cent to 877p.

The Goldman Sachs consortium also includes Borealis Infrastructure Management Inc., a part of Canada's Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System; and Singapore government fund GIC Special Investments Ptd Ltd.

AB Ports chairman Chris Clark said: “ABP is a unique strategic asset. The offers reflect that and recognise the strong operational and financial performance of the business. This is an excellent opportunity for shareholders to realise the significant value that has been created."

The bidding war may hot up further in the coming hours. Clinching ownership of ABP would be something of a consolation for Goldman Sachs whose consortium appears to have abandoned plans for an 11th hour hijack of Stansted Airport owner BAA.

BAA last week shook hands on a £10.3bn deal with Spanish infrastructure group, Ferovial, but the Takeover Panel gave Goldman Sachs until noon today to make a definitive counterbid.

News has filtered out from the New York end of Goldman Sachs’ operation that it has decided not to try to trump Ferrovial’s offer.

Business Weekly can reveal that Ferrovial has earmarked Gatwick and Glasgow for potential sell-offs, to satisfy UK competition chiefs concerned at BAA’s monopolies of airports in London and Scotland.

This would leave the way clear for multi-billion pound investment in London Stansted, including commitment to a second runway and ancillary improvements.

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