Omega in bid wrangle as Byrne wavers

David Hellier
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OMEGA, the Bermuda-domiciled London stock market-listed insurance group, yesterday confirmed that the tycoon bidding for 25 per cent of its stock wants to lower his offer.

Omega made a stock exchange announcement yesterday following reports, including in City A.M. suggesting that bidder Mark Byrne was about to let his offer lapse.

Sources close to Byrne have told City A.M. that his tender offer, which closes today, will likely lapse as far as he is concerned because certain regulatory clearances have not been obtained.

But this view is disputed by Omega’s board, which said yesterday that none of the conditions of the offer had been breached and that, in any case, Byrne had a further 21 days in which to get the regulatory clearances required.

One source said he expected all conditions to be cleared within the allotted time-frame. “The Omega Board knows of no reason why, if the minimum level of tenders is achieved, the offer would lapse,” the group said yesterday.

One source said he thought Byrne had been advised by Citi that he would complete the tender auction at a price averaging around 75p, but in the event investors tendered at a higher price. With the two sides seemingly at loggerheads, advisers would normally look to the City’s Takeover Panel to resolve differences. But Omega is domiciled in Bermuda so is outside its jurisdiction.