Oberthur and Bain mull De La Rue bid

OBERTHUR Technologies, the French group eyeing British banknote printer De La Rue, has joined forces with private equity firm Bain Capital to lift its bid.

However, Bain will only support the deal if it gains approval from De La Rue’s board, sources said.

De La Rue last month rejected a takeover approach from Oberthur worth £895m, or 905 pence per share, calling it “highly opportunistic”.

Bain is now willing to provide some of the financing to allow Oberthur to raise the offer if backed by De La Rue.

A weekend report said Oberthur would make a new bid of around 950 pence.

The two firms have clashed since Oberthur made its offer, in particular over the nature of De La Rue’s relationship with its key customer, The Reserve Bank of India.

A source familiar with the situation said earlier this month that De La Rue would not be awarded new contracts to supply the Reserve Bank of India in the immediate future, following production problems at one of its paper factories.

A spokeswoman for De La Rue said the company would not comment on relationships with customers because of confidentiality agreements that are in place.

However, De La Rue stated that orders taken since July 2010 were comparable with those won in the same period the previous year.

The UK’s Takeover Panel said Oberthur must announce a firm intention to bid for De La Rue by 7 February or walk away.

Last night an Oberthur spokesman refused to comment.