Forth to open books after £745m offer

FORTH Ports yesterday received a takeover approach valuing the operator at £745m from its largest shareholder, Arcus European Infrastructure Fund, and has given Arcus access to its books.

Forth Ports, which owns and operates seven commercial ports in the UK, said following talks Arcus had made an indicative conditional offer worth 1,630p per Forth Ports share not already owned by Arcus, which has a 23.5 per cent stake in the company.

Arcus has also offered to pay a 20p per share dividend in respect of Forth’s 2010 performance, which would be paid prior to completion of any offer, Forth said.

“On the basis of this indicative proposal, the board has agreed that Arcus can undertake certain confirmatory due diligence,” Britain’s only listed ports company said yesterday.

Shares in Forth Ports, which have risen 13 per cent in the last month, closed up 5.38 per cent at 1605p.

“Although 1,650p is only an 8.3 per cent premium compared to Friday’s close (1,523p), the Forth Ports share price has been unusually strong of late, up 14 per cent in the past month,” said Arbuthnot analyst Gerald Khoo.