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Tuesday, March 3, 1998 Published at 10:49 GMT


Texas raises Energy bid to £4.46bn

The battle for control of Britain's Energy Group - owner of Eastern Electricity - has reached fever pitch with America's Texas Utilities raising its bid to £4.46bn, or 840p a share.

The latest bid was prompted by US rival Pacificorp's attempt to raise the stakes with an 820p offer on Monday night - 10p above the price tag put on Energy Group shares by Texas earlier in the day.

Pacificorp confirmed that it had been buying Energy Group shares on the open market in an attempt to thwart the Texas takeover. Texas now says it is buying shares to back up its latest bid.

Astonished City traders said the bidding war was in danger of getting out of control and was already "stretched" at current levels.

"The general view is that there can't be a lot more left in it," one trader said.

The battle has seen PacifiCorp twice raise its original bid.

PacifiCorp first made a £3.6bn offer last summer, but the bid was put on hold while it secured regulatory clearance from competition authorities on both sides of the Atlantic.

It came back with an increased offer of £4.05bn in February in an effort to ward off other predators on the acquisition trail.

PacifiCorp said it had now acquired 8.6% of Energy Group's shares at 820p each.

Even if its bid is successful, Texas Utilities now faces the same series of regulatory hurdles that had stalled PacifiCorp's takeover for more than seven months.

Texas Utilities said it would sell coal group Peabody for £1.4bn to help it gain approval and complete the deal.

PacifiCorp recently said it planned to hang on to Peabody saying it was a key part of the business.


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