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Babcock keeps heat on VT

SHIPBUILDER Babcock ratcheted up the pressure on services company VT Group yesterday by publicly calling on the board to enter into discussions over its £1.26bn takeover approach.

In a move designed to stir up VT shareholders, Babcock said it was “disappointed” chief executive Paul Lester and his team had refused to engage. Babcock reiterated its call for VT to open its books and maintained that a merger would offer “a compelling growth story”.

The development came after VT knocked back a raised indicative approach from Babcock in the 680p to 715p per share range.

Babcock said that VT’s proposed £330m tie-up with smaller rival Mouchel would leave it exposed to cutbacks in local government and capital programme spending.

VT shares ended 6.2 per cent up at 660p, while Babcock closed down 2.3 per cent at 553p.