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21 September, 2018

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Wheatley bids to take over Focus Dynamics
Published:  01 September, 1999

Former Control Techniques chairman Trevor Wheatley could take control of Focus Dynamics after making a joint offer for the company with railway tycoon Sandy Anderson and former FD director Bill Eastwood.

Acting through a company called Breckenburn, Wheatley and his partners have made a 32p-a-share offer for FD, valuing the drives, pumps and blades operation at £5.2m. They claim to have acceptances representing 50.5% of the issued share capital - including the 26% already owned by Wheatley.

Initial reports suggested, incorrectly, that the FD board had agreed to the offer. Focus is contesting the bid, arguing that it undervalues the company, and suggesting that there are other potential bidders. Chief executive Mike Gulliford points out that while Breckenburn may hold 29% of the issued shares, the remaining 22% "have not voted irrevocably".

If the bid is successful, FD will be broken up, with Eastwood taking control of the blades business, and Wheatley taking the helm at the drives operation. He is confident that he could improve its performance and says he would do so partly through acquisitions. He told Drives & Controls that he is already taking to potential takeover targets.

Gulliford rejects Wheatley`s plans. "We don`t believe that a break-up bid represents good value for shareholders," he says.

Earlier this year, FD fought off a bid from Corporate Resolve that valued the company at £5.76m.

Wheatley was chairman of FD until he was forced by the High Court to resign the position following allegations by his former employer, Emerson Electric, that he had broken undertakings to Emerson by joining FD.

Anderson, who made £33m three years ago by selling the rail leasing company Porterbrook to Stagecoach, has a 74% stake in Breckenburn, with Wheatley owning the balance.

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