De La Rue: No to French bid

BANKNOTE printer De La Rue has rejected a £900m takeover approach made last month from French rival Oberthur Technologies.

De La Rue, which has been investigating suspected wrongdoing by some staff over production irregularities, said the proposal – pitched at 905p – a 43 per cent premium to De La Rue’s closing share price on 10 November failed to reflect the true value of the company.

“Consequently the board was unanimous in rejecting this opportunistic approach,” De La Rue said in a statement released late yesterday.

Oberthur brought its 10 November offer out in the open yesterday with a statement aimed at putting pressure on De La Rue to engage in talks. The group, which is run by chairman Jean-Pierre Savare and Thomas Savare, its chief executive, called on the board to enter into “substantive discussions”.

Oberthur Technologies prints banknotes and makes card systems and cash and identity protection technology. Oberthur said it didn’t believe De La Rue’s results backed the claim that its approach undervalued the business.

De La Rue is thought to be open to a sale – but at a much higher price than the French are offering. It is believed that it might consider an offer of around £10.00 a share, or about £1bn, – its share price before the production problems came to light.

De La Rue’a shares have fallen nearly 40 per cent since March over paper production irregularities earlier this year. De La Rue shares soared 30 per cent yesterday to 841p.

MICHAEL?Wentworth-Stanley at JP Morgan Cazenove is De La Rue’s broker and Crispin Wright at Rothschild is the company’s financial adviser.

Wentworth-Stanley, 58, has been managing director at JP Morgan Cazenove since 2005. He began his career as a chartered accountant in 1974, joined Cazenove & Co in 1975 and was a partner at the firm between 1982 and 2001 before becoming the managing director of Cazenove & Co in 2001 until 2005. He also did a spell at Cazenove between 1981 and 1983.

Wright led a Rothschild team that helped the former brewer and pub group Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries, now known as Marston’s, fend off a hostile bid from rival pub group Pubmaster. He also advised Arriva on the bus and train group’s sale to German state railway Deutsche Bahn.

Wright has also advised airport operator BAA and is understood to have been involved in helping General Electric buy a quarter stake in Turkish bank Garanpi, and in selling IT services company Sema to Schlumberger for $2.5bn.

He was also involved in advising P&O?on the £3.5bn sale of the group to Dubai Ports.