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14 June, 2006 - 20:44 By Staff Reporter

ABP bows to £2.5bn Goldman Sachs bid

A Goldman Sachs-led consortium has had an offer worth just under £2.5 billion accepted by Associated British Ports – owner of Ipswich, King’s Lynn and Lowestoft ports in the East of England.A Goldman Sachs-led consortium has had an offer worth just under £2.5 billion accepted by Associated British Ports – owner of Ipswich, King’s Lynn and Lowestoft ports in the East of England.

Goldman Sachs' consortium, called Admiral Acquisitions UK Ltd, said it believed private ownership would enhance the long-term value of AB Ports.

The 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.

After something of a stand-off, Admiral raised its bid for ABP to 810p a share. The stock actually closed up 7.7 per cent at 836.5p a share after Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein began buying ABP shares, triggering speculation of a late counter-bid.

AB Ports chairman Chris Clark said: "ABP is a unique strategic asset. The consortium's offer reflects that and recognises 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."

Clinching ABP was 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 on June 16 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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