Cooper left frustrated by Laird defiance

 
Kasmira Jefford
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COOPER Industries was left frustrated in its two-month battle to buy Laird after the British electronic components firm refused to stand down on its 220p demand ahead of today’s deadline.

The board of US-based Cooper, which has until 5pm today under takeover rules to make a formal offer, flew into London last week in an attempt to rescue the deal and resolve a stand-off over bid price.

Talks reached a stalemate, however, after Laird’s chairman Nigel Keen wrote to Cooper’s chief executive Kirk Hachigian on Friday to say that its board was not prepared to meet with Cooper unless it increased its indicative offer to 220p a share.

Keen said the team was ready to discuss “value related points” and listed areas he would be willing to discuss at the proposed meeting that was due to be held on Saturday.

The letter came after Laird rebuffed Cooper’s sweetened £533m takeover approach earlier in the week, saying the offer still undervalued the firm.

Sources familiar with the company said Laird had initially agreed to meet with its suitor, only to change its mind at the last minute.

Hachigian, who sources say put in early morning calls to his opposite number last week, rejected the invitation for Cooper to increase its offer.

“We are frustrated...We think it is in Laird’s shareholders’ interests for Cooper to review limited value driving information and see if a compromise can be reached between our position and Laird’s,” he said in a statement.

The company said it would withdraw its interest by tomorrow’s 5pm deadline if there was no change in Laird’s position.