Laird Soars After Cooper Industries Says Offer Rejected

Laird Plc soared the most in more than two decades in London trading after Cooper Industries Plc said its offer valuing the U.K. company at about 493 million pounds ($794 million) was spurned.

Cooper is seeking to combine Laird, the biggest maker of mobile-phone electronic shields, with its Bussmann electronics division, the Houston-based company said in a statement today. The 185 pence-per-share offer, made June 1, is 35 percent higher than yesterday’s closing price. Laird, founded in 1824, rose 38 percent to 188.9 pence at the 4:30 p.m. close of London trading, the biggest jump since at least May 1989.

Cooper’s approach is “opportunistic and substantially undervalues the company and its prospects,” London-based Laird said in a separate statement. Cooper, which employs 2,100 in the U.K., said the combination would create a leader in circuit protection and power-management and would offer “a compelling suite” of electromagnetic interference, radio frequency and circuit-protection products.

“Laird has underperformed and that has created interest from Cooper,” said Dominic Convey, an analyst with Peel Hunt who has a “hold” recommendation on the stock. He called 185 pence “a very reasonable opening shot.” Investors should accept a price of more than 200 pence, Convey said.

Laird has advanced 8.9 percent this year, giving the company a market value of 503 million pounds.

Laird is “undervalued” and its dependence on its largest customer, Nokia Oyj, will probably decline, Robert Owens, a JPMorgan Cazenove analyst with an “overweight” recommendation on the stock, said in a report yesterday.

Cooper Industries was little changed at $60.15 in New York trading.

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