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Last Updated: Friday, 30 June 2006, 06:28 GMT 07:28 UK
Macquarie pulls out of ports race
Southampton port
The Goldman Sachs consortium is now the front runner for ABP
A consortium led by Australian bank Macquarie has dropped out of the race to buy UK ports operator Associated British Ports (ABP).

Britannia Ports said it now did not intend to make a formal offer for ABP.

Its announcement appears to leave the way clear for the rival consortium led by US investment bank Goldman Sachs.

The Goldman-led group is currently tabling a 2.8bn ($5.1bn) offer for ABP, which has won the backing of the firm's board of directors.

The offer is worth 910 pence per share, up from Goldman's earlier offer of 840p.

Goldman decided to raise its bid after Macquarie initially said it was also considering a move for ABP.

Booming sector

ABP, owner of 21 UK ports including Southampton, Grimsby and Hull, is the latest ports group to attract bid interest as global trade booms.

In a controversial move in March, Dubai Ports World bought ports and shipping firm P&O for 3.9bn after winning a bidding war with Singapore's PSA International.

The UK's Mersey Docks and PD Ports have also been taken over during the past year.

Companies such as ABP offer investors a relatively steady stream of business and earnings, as well as valuable real estate and property holdings.

ABP began life as the British Transport Docks Board in 1962.


SEE ALSO
Goldman Sachs raises ports offer
23 Jun 06 |  Business
Second takeover bid for AB Ports
15 Jun 06 |  Business
AB Ports could face bidding war
14 Jun 06 |  Business
Q&A: Britain's asset sell-off
15 Jun 06 |  Business
Fresh takeover move for AB Ports
23 May 06 |  Business

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