Takeover Panel sets deadline on De La Rue

THE Takeover Panel yesterday issued a “put up or shut up” order on Oberthur Technologies, the French smart card maker eyeing a purchase of UK money-printer De La Rue.

The order gives Oberthur until 7 February to decide whether or not it will make a formal offer for the company.

Oberthur made an indicative offer at 905p, or £895m in total, in early December.

De La Rue refused to come to the table, dismissing the price as “opportunistic” and “preliminary”.

Since then, the French firm has mounted an aggressive campaign to court De La Rue shareholders, announcing last week that its takeover target had lost an important contract with its biggest client, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

In response, De La Rue said that negotiations have been “ongoing” since the contract was suspended in July, but industry sources suggest that the firm was not invited to pitch for the RBI’s most recent money-printing contract.

Oberthur now has just four weeks to stir up more trouble for its rival, with De La Rue shareholders reportedly restless about the lack of a response from their board.