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Thursday, January 21, 1999 Published at 20:36 GMT

Business: The Company File

Mirror rejects takeover bid

The door remains open for further talks

Newspaper company Mirror Group has rejected the £913m ($1.5bn) takeover offer from Regional Independent Media but has left the door open for further talks.

In a late statement to the City, Mirror Group said the 200p-a-share offer and other proposals were "not adequate".

[ image: David Montgomery: What role does he have in a new group?]
David Montgomery: What role does he have in a new group?
But the company said it had offered to enter into discussions with RIM to assess whether further proposals may be made.

The company said the discussions could take some time to conclude and that a further announcement would be made when appropriate.

The Mirror Group made its statement to the Stock Exchange after the markets had closed.

Soros speculation

RIM is being backed by the Candover investment group and other private interests.

The Times which is part of Rupert Murdoch's rival News International group has suggested those interests include the fund belonging to Hungarian billionaire financier George Soros.

He bought shares in MGN in 1991 and sold out when the share price picked up, making his customary profit.

RIM is smaller than Trinity, but a merger with the Mirror Group would create the UK's largest print media operation.

It is not the first time RIM and the Mirror have held talks. Late last year the two were in negotiations but it came to nothing.

Trinity offer

The latest move follows the collapse of talks between the Mirror and another regional newspaper operator Trinity, which owns titles in Liverpool, Newcastle and Cardiff.

They are believed to have foundered as a result of a failure to agree a future role for the Mirror's chief executive David Montgomery.

He took charge of the group in 1992 when it was struggling to survive following the death of former owner Robert Maxwell the previous year.

The company has since been restored to financial health and has expanded into cable television and regional newspapers.

Share rollercoaster ride

But its shares have languished in recent months over concerns about growth prospects.

Mirror shares fell from 250p last June after German publishing giant Axel Springer ruled out a bid and hit a low of 136p in October, only to bounce back on the recent bid speculation.

The group's shares climbed sharply on Monday, adding 32.5p to 206p, indicating that the market believed the bid would have to be increased.

But on Thursday the share price fell back 3.5p to close at 197.5p, before the latest announcement was released.

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