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Laird Falls After Cooper Blocked From Doing Due Diligence

Laird Plc (LRD) fell the most since March 2010 after Cooper Industries Plc (CBE) said the maker of electronic shields for laptops and flat-screen televisions wasn’t allowing it to conduct due diligence for a possible raised bid.

Cooper Industries will consider making a bid of 200 pence a share, 8.1 percent higher than its previous indicative offer of 185 pence a share, subject to being allowed to do due diligence, the Houston-based company said in a Regulatory News Service statement today. Laird “continues to refuse to allow” this, Cooper said in the statement.

Laird shares fell 13.7 pence, or 7.2 percent, to 177.5 pence in London trading, the lowest since Cooper said six weeks ago it was mulling a bid.

“Based on the conversations over the past two days with Laird and its advisers, Cooper continues to be concerned that the board of Laird has a view on the value of the company which is significantly greater than its own,” Cooper said.

Laird didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cooper has until Aug. 1 under U.K. takeover rules to say whether it plans to make a firm offer.

“If the board of Laird is not prepared to engage with Cooper and provide access to reasonable due diligence ahead of the date by which Cooper must either announce a firm offer or withdraw, Cooper will withdraw its interest,” the U.S. company said in the statement.

The indicative offer, which is 46 percent higher than Laird’s share price the day before Cooper disclosed its interest on June 16, values Laird at about 533 million pounds ($871 million), Cooper said today.

Earlier today, Laird promised to raise its dividend by an average of 24 percent a year until 2013 and organic revenue by 10 percent. It also promised to improve profitability. Laird’s dividend will rise to 12 pence a share by 2013 from 6.7 pence last year, the company said in a statement today.

The sales target covers the next three to five years, Chief Executive Officer Peter Hill said on a conference call.

“We have the absolute overriding objective of increasing shareholder value,” Hill said on the call. Cooper’s offer “was not the right place to start.”

Laird has shared some “high-level” information with Cooper, according to the U.K. company’s statement. Hill declined to be more specific.

The forecast growth in revenue and dividends is higher than analysts’ estimates, UBS AG analyst Anuj Krishan said in a note to clients today. The underlying results were “solid,” said Krishan, who has a “neutral” rating on the stock.

Laird, which is based in London, said its first-half loss widened to 113 million pounds ($186 million), or 42.6 pence a share, from 12.3 million pounds, or 4.6 pence, a year earlier after taking a charge of 124.3 million pounds to close its handset antennae business.

To contact the reporter on this story: Peter Woodifield in Edinburgh at pwoodifield@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Colin Keatinge at ckeatinge@bloomberg.net.

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