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The City spins with merger mania. (M&A, supplement to Euromoney corporate finance - July 1986)

Beware the dirty diggers | Canada grapples on the border | En France on va tout privatiser | Japan prepares for a takeover splurge | Leveraged funding | The city spins with merger mania | The thriving LBO | To focus is to succeed | U.S. megamergers on the wane

The morning of February 17 was not a run-of-the-mill day in the long and distinguished history of the London stock market. It was the day that debonair Lord Hanson, of Hanson Trust distinction, despatched N. M. Rothschild & Sons with a fresh 2.3 pounds sterling billion offer for the Imperial Group (Imps). He had done so in the wake of an unsuccessful attempt by the Imps management to arrange a tie-up with Sir Hector Laing's United Biscuits and had reason to feel satisfied with this latest turn of events.

His satisfaction was short-lived, however, when United Biscuit announced details of a 2.5 pound sterling billion counter-offer for the much sought-after Imps. Sir Hector's innovative advisers - merchant bank Morgan Grenfell -- had busied themselves over the weekend putting together a package that would set the stage for a long and protracted takeover battle. Under the new plan, bidding was swtiched from Imps to United Biscuit (UB) and an agreement drawn up to sell off the former's Golden Wonder potato crisp arm to UB's dominant snack food operation.

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