Omega gets a fresh merger proposition

David Hellier
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SHAREHOLDERS in the loss-making Omega insurance group were yesterday presented with a third takeover proposal for the group.

Barbican Insurance, a private group backed by Carlson Capital, said yesterday that it was proposing to be bought by Omega in an initial all-share deal, with no acquisition premium to be paid out to Barbican's shareholders.

The new company formed by this initial all-share deal would then offer 84p in cash to buy out 25 per cent of Omega shareholders.

This 84p-per-share offer is slightly better than the 83p offers for Omega from privately held insurer Canopius Group and Mark Byrne’s Haverford Bermuda Ltd.

Omega shares edged up fractionally to 74p in morning trade, giving the company a market capitalisation of around £180m.

If the Barbican bid were to be successful, the Omega management team would remain in place. Omega shareholders are being asked to make suggestions for an independent chairman.

Barbican said that its proposal gave Omega investors the chance to participate in an enlarged group. But Sarah Lewanowski at Peel Hunt said many shareholders wanted to sell out altogether. “Many shareholders are tired of the situation and are hoping for a resolution,” she said.