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Delta booms after Leighton counterbid derails Valmont

SHAREHOLDERS in Delta, the engineered steel specialist, cheered as Australian services company Leighton gatecrashed an unpopular takeover attempt by Valmont Industries of the US yesterday.

Delta said it was in talks about a possible offer with a third party, identified by market sources to City A.M. as Leighton. The move comes after Delta’s board recommended a 185p per share offer from Valmont, a deal that infuriated investors on valuation grounds and because it would see the final dividend of 4.8p ditched.

Delta shares closed up 8.5 per cent to 208p yesterday after the counterbid.

One top ten investor said: “It’s very good news. Shareholders are in the driving seat on valuation now.”

Another top ten shareholder said: “Valmont’s not going to win. I can see a bit of a bidding war breaking out, so we’ll see what happens.”

Hedge fund Crystal Amber said the approach by Leighton vindicated its decision to call on management to hold out for a higher valuation than Valmont’s offer. At the time, the Delta board argued a rival approach was unlikely to be forthcoming.

Leighton, which describes itself as the world’s largest contract miner, could not be reached for comment.