Laird board turns down Cooper’s sweetened offer

 
Kasmira Jefford
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LAIRD yesterday rebuffed an improved £533m approach from its US rival Cooper Industries, saying the offer “continues to undervalue the firm”.

The British electronics firm has refused to fully open its books, objecting to certain preconditions by Cooper, including its right to reduce its 200p offer if Laird declares a dividend for its shareholders.

But the firm said it remains open to constructive talks and will give out specific information if Cooper reasonably requests it.

Laird, led by chief executive Peter Hill, has set out to convince investors to support its independence by recommending a full-year pay-out of 8p.

Cooper said shareholders could either accept an “attractive cash exit” or continue to place “faith in the uncertain future of a company with a poor historic track record”.

MEET THE ADVISERS

ROBERT LEITAO

ROTHSCHILD

ROTHSCHILD’S head of investment banking, Robert Leitão, is leading Laird’s advisory team. Since joining the bank in 1998 from Morgan Grenfell, where he spent nine years, he has built Rothschild’s M&A arm to be the City’s top M&A bank by number of transactions, specialising in deals in the mid-market range.

Among his most prestigious recent deals is the huge $9.6bn (£6bn) sale of a majority stake in Cairn Energy’s Indian arm to Vedanta Resources, which required agreement from the Indian government to secure.

Other deals include Babcock’s £1.32bn acquisition of VT Group in March; investment fund Melrose’s $855.6m disposal of McKechnie Aerospace in 2007, and Thales’ £51m takeover of data security firm nCipher in 2008, among others.

A chartered accountant, Leitão qualified at Peat Marwick Mitchell (now KPMG) and holds an engineering degree from Imperial College London.

He is joined by Ravi Gupta, who recently advised Melrose on the sale of its Dynacast business in June. Gupta also advised the Board of St Ives disposal of its magazine business to Walstead Newco3.