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Forth Ports bidders get put up or shut up order

City A.M. Reporter
A trio of Forth Ports’ shareholders has just under five weeks to make a formal offer for Britain’s only listed ports company or must walk away for six months, the Takeover Panel said yesterday.

Forth on Wednesday rejected a new £640m takeover approach from the Northstream consortium – made up of AEIF General Partners, Peel Ports Holdings and RREEF – saying its third offer fell “far short” of a fair value for the company.

However, the consortium, which holds a 27.4 per cent stake in Forth, hit back, saying its 1,400p a share bid was a “highly compelling proposition” comparing favourably with previous UK port deals, which came in better debt and equity markets.

Forth last month rejected a second bid approach from the consortium, which valued the Scotland-based company at 1,340p per share.

The rationale for the deal centres on Forth’s Ports and Recycling division, for which it is offering 1,285p a share, Northstream said.

However, it is also offering 115p a share for its property assets, representing a 59 per cent premium to their adjusted valuation by property consultancy DTZ on 31 December 2009, although it said they were “very long-term assets” and there were risks associated with their development.