Sunday 5 December 2010 11:40 pm

Troubled De La Rue rejects French bid

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BANKNOTE printer De La Rue has been the subject of a rejected takeover bid from French rival Oberthur Technologies, it emerged yesterday.

The troubled currency printer received an all cash secret takeover bid from privately-owned Oberthur a few weeks ago, which reportedly values De La Rue at about £750m.

The deal was rejected on the grounds that it undervalued De La Rue, which has seen its share price slump this year amid a production crisis that shook customer’s confidence in the company and cost its chief executive, James Hussey, his job in August.

Oberthur is now understood to be considering whether to increase its offer, according to Sky News. De La Rue declined to comment.

If Oberthur were to go ahead with a second offer it could reignite debate about the foreign ownership of British companies, with the production of sterling and biometric passports being a particularly sensitive issue that the government would be likely to take a significant interest in.

On Friday, De La Rue shares closed at 647.5p, valuing the group at around £640m..

The deal speculation follows the recent revelation that De La Rue is in the final stages of negotiations with Tim Cobbold, the head of the industrial group Chloride, to take over the vacant position of chief executive.

The firm is keen to transform its fortunes after a disastrous admission in the summer that there had been printing irregularities at its factory in Overton, Hampshire.

The admission threatened the company’s relationship with its biggest client, thought to be the Bank of India.