Midland coach builder Dennis used its half-year results last week to try and convince shareholders to back merger plans with busmaker Henlys rather than a rival bid from Mayflower.
Chief executive Stephen Burton said the Henlys deal offered numerous strategic advantages including access to the US market.
‘Eighty per cent of our products go to Henlys or Mayflower,’ he said. ‘But Henlys already has a left-hand drive body for our Dart minibus. Mayflower would have to start from scratch.’
Dennis reported a decline in headline profits to £7.4m from £9.1m.
Burton’s comments came a day after Henlys chief executive Robert Wood, unveiling a 16.6% rise in profit from continuing operations to £16.01m, issued a point-by-point rebuttal of what he called ‘misleading statements’ by Mayflower.
Mayflower, meanwhile, said it is in talks with Daimler-Benz to agree a global team-up. The companies already have close links through Mayflower’s body engineering division, and intend to enter a technical and commercial strategic alliance.
Mayflower supplies Daimler-Benz with body pressings about half of the bodyshell of the German group’s new M-class off-road vehicle is supplied by Mayflower.
A Mayflower spokesman said the proposed deal should make its £255m bid for Dennis much more attractive than Henlys’ £309m paper offer.
Henlys dismissed the news as merely ‘talks about talks’. Robert Wood said: ‘This announcement is just an intention to set up a strategic alliance. There isn’t even a signed deal on the table.’