Companies sling mud in fight for Dennis

Renewed mud-slinging broke out last week between Mayflower and Henlys, the rival engineering groups vying for control of specialist vehicle maker Dennis. The fresh outbreak of claim and counter-claim began with a statement aimed at Dennis shareholders in which Mayflower made fresh criticism of Henlys’ £309m offer. The company said the bid, which trumped its […]

Renewed mud-slinging broke out last week between Mayflower and Henlys, the rival engineering groups vying for control of specialist vehicle maker Dennis.

The fresh outbreak of claim and counter-claim began with a statement aimed at Dennis shareholders in which Mayflower made fresh criticism of Henlys’ £309m offer.

The company said the bid, which trumped its own all-cash £255m offer, consisted mainly of Henlys shares of ‘uncertain and diminished value’.

A Mayflower spokesman, urging Dennis shareholders to accept his own company’s bid, said that since Henlys’ revised offer was announced on 14 August its value had fallen 14% from 545p per Dennis share to 468.5p per Dennis share on 10 September.

The spokesman said that without the recent heavy buying of Henlys shares by Volvo, which has a North American partnership with the company, the Henlys share price and value of its revised offer for Dennis would be far lower than it is now.

Henlys chief executive Robert Wood dismissed the claims as ‘nothing new’ and said Mayflower’s own bid for Dennis was so spectacular, its shares should have reflected this.

‘Ever since Mayflower announced its interest in Dennis, its shares have been going south. If this is such a great deal, why are the shares off so much? There has been a 26% deterioration yet this deal is supposed to be great news for Mayflower shareholders.’

Mayflower also criticised Henlys’ takeover of Northern Counties. ‘The Northern Counties acquisition in 1995 has demonstrated the inability of Henlys’ management to deliver on its promises,’ the company said.

‘Northern Counties’ market share in the UK double-decker market has fallen dramatically from 45.9% to 39.9% between 1995 and 1997. This provides no confidence in the ability of Henlys’ management to deliver.’

Wood, however, rejected the analysis. He added: ‘This is all ancient history. We had a bad year and the business suffered. But there has been a complete restructuring and Northern Counties is now performing profitably.

‘Mayflower should come up with a strategy rather than this mud-slinging. It makes them look like they’re struggling.’

By the market close on the same day, Friday, Mayflower shares were down 1.5p at 161.5p, while Henlys ended at 455p, unchanged on the day. Shares in Dennis, meanwhile, closed down 2.5p at 467p.