De La Rue recovery could ward off rival

BANKNOTE printer De La Rue has reported a 22 per cent rise in profits that could see off any renewed takeover attempts by rival Oberthur Technologies.

Speculation is rife that French smartcard maker Oberthur could return to the field once its prohibition on bidding again runs out in December.

It mounted an aggressive campaign to buy De La Rue early this year but shareholders decided to give new CEO Tim Cobbold a chance to deliver a share price recovery.

Since then, Oberthur has raised cash and poached a senior De La Rue executive.

But with its takeover target seemingly on course for recovery, it could have to stump up more this time.

The firm’s price rose to 885p yesterday, not far below the maximum offer of 905p per share made by Oberthur last December.

A source familiar with Oberthur’s previous takeover attempt told City A.M. that a big increase on its offer price is very unlikely, suggesting that any attempt to re-enter the field could be short-lived.

Oberthur had argued that a recovery was unlikely after De La Rue saw a contract with a major client, the Reserve Bank of India, suspended last July.

However, yesterday De La Rue reported pre-tax profits of £29m for the six months to October, versus £24m for the same period last year, excluding a one-off gain of £46m last year from disposals.

Revenues grew 14 per cent to £238m. Cobbold also suggested that the firm could itself be acquisitional and has its eye on opportunities on the continent.