The Urge To Merge And Beat The Clock

British execs fear a Labor government would block many deals

Rarely have London's investment bankers been so busy. On Feb. 15, Granada Group--fresh from its $5.7 billion takeover of hotel-chain Forte--upped its stake in Yorkshire-Tyne Tees Television to just under 25%, in a step toward a possible takeover. Next day, drug distributor Unichem raised its offer to buy Lloyd's Chemists to $950 million, countering an $899 million bid from Germany's GEHE. And Rentokil Group, an environmental-services outfit, began a $2.9 billion hostile takeover for rival BET. Soon after, National Westminster Bank snapped up fund manager Gartmore for $726 million.

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