Group raise stake in shipping line ICG

ONE51 and the Doyle Group have increased their stake in ICG to 20.2%, paying up to €20.75 for its recent share purchases in the group.

As the battle for control of the shipping line continues the price of €20.75 becomes the minimum price the consortium can offer for the business if they wish to make a counter bid.

At that price the potential bid is over 12% above the initial management offer of €18.50 per share for the group and values the company at well over €500m against the offer of €471m.

Sources close to the consortium said yesterday they expect the due diligence process to begin this weekend which could take several weeks to complete. An initial timetable of three weeks is envisaged but it could take up to six weeks for a possible bid to emerge.

Since the possibility of a counter offer from One51, headed by businessman Philip Lynch and cousins Conor and Frank Doyle, who control the Doyle shipping group emerged, the MBO team have stayed tight lipped.

The only indication of where they possibly stand was that they made the initial offer, the comment was made by chief executive Eamonn Rothwell that the MBO team only increased the offer price from €17.50 to €18.50 following pressure from the independent directors during negotiations before the actual bid was tabled.

Whether that means they will not try to top whatever potential offer emerges from the consortium is unknown.

However, Stuart Draper, head of research at Dolmen Stockbrokers, argues that at €20.75 the company is pretty well valued and “it will be hard for anyone to justify going much beyond that price level for business,” he said.

While it looks increasingly likely that a bid will emerge from the consortium the only bid on the table so far is from the MBO team which valued the company at €471m.

In an earlier statement independent directors, John McGuckian, group chairman, Bernard Somers and Peter Crowley, said: “Shareholders should note that the possible offer is subject to the completion of confirmatory due diligence and other conditions and there can be no certainty that an offer will ultimately be forthcoming from the (One51/Doyle) consortium. Therefore, the independent directors continue to recommend the Aella offer”.

While nothing has happened since to change the position of the independent directors the reality is that the move towards due diligence by the Doyle Group of Cork and One51 brings the prospect of the counter bid a step closer.

It could take a full six weeks however, before the alternative offer emerges, and sources close to the consortium have denied that they are under pressure having been told they will get just two weeks to complete the process as was previously reported.

MBO team cannot up their offer until such time a counter bid emerges from One51 and the Doyle Group.

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