Melrose moves to sweet-talk key GKN shareholders

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Neil Craven, Financial Mail on Sunday

The predator behind the biggest hostile bid for a British company in almost a decade has met with dozens of shareholders in engineering giant GKN.

Melrose Industries bosses, including chief executive Simon Peckham, are understood to have targeted ‘priority’ shareholders in GKN in a bid to pressure its management into talks.

Defending: Anne Stevens is the new boss of Midlands-based GKN

Defending: Anne Stevens is the new boss of Midlands-based GKN

Midlands-based GKN rejected what it described as Melrose’s ‘derisory’ £7.4 billion bid on Thursday.

GKN, led by American Anne Stevens who was thrust into the chief executive seat only last month, must now file details of an updated strategy to fend off Melrose within two weeks.

The predator has offered to shovel £150 million into the disputed £1.1 billion GKN pension deficit, which is likely to put pressure on the targeted firm to follow suit.

GKN launched an attack on Melrose last month arguing that the bid only offers a ‘fake premium’ to shareholders because of the way it is structured.

Bidding: Melrose Industries chief executive Simon Peckham

Bidding: Melrose Industries chief executive Simon Peckham

Bidding: Melrose Industries chief executive Simon Peckham

There has also been talk of national security concerns. Peckham retorted: ‘We’re a UK quoted company run by people who’ve run a UK quoted company for 30 years. Which bit of the UK national security do you not think we’d be interested in?’

Speaking to The Mail on Sunday, he said the question for shareholders is: ‘Would you like the Melrose management team – or a slightly reconfigured version of the GKN management team which is partly responsible for getting you to where you are today?’





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