Control for ICG steps up a gear as groups prepare to counter €500m bid

THE battle for control of shipping group ICG is about to step up a gear as One51 and the Cork based Doyle shipping group prepare to mount a counter offer of over €500m for the shipping group.

ICG’s chief executive Eamonn Rothwell, and other senior managers have already offered €18.50 to buy the group placing a value €471m on the business, including €100m debt.

In early April the joint bidders, who had been stake building in ICG, said it was possible they could offer over €20 per share for the group once it had carried out due diligence which is now “substantially complete.”

In the meantime they bought shares at prices of up to €20.75 in ICG and any bid will have to be at that level or higher, under stock exchange rules.

A share price of €20.75 values the group at well over €500m.

The consortium is expected to announce a bid either today or on Monday, according to reliable market sources.

Following the MBO announcement, shares in the company rose well above €19 and held at that level and their value boosted further as the Doyle Group and One51, led by well known businessman Philip Lynch, continued to mop up any available equity.

It remains to be seen if the management will come up with a further offer to counter whatever the consortium of One51 and the Doyle Group comes up with.

At the time of the MBO announcement Mr Rothwell said he upped his offer to €18.50 from €17.50 under pressure from the independent directors.

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 the business,” he said.

Shares in the group were unchanged at €20.65 as the markets expect further developments within days.

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