Friday 9 May 2014

More Weir Group gossip

Sorry for the lack of posts in the last couple of days. I have been busy scurrying around in the undergrowth (mainly pubs in City of London and Mayfair hotel bars) trying to dig up some jackanories for loyal Betaville readers.

There is potentially some interesting stuff coming up but I also stumbled across one historic tale that puts an altogether different spin on Weir Group's attempt to merge with Finnish company Metso to create an £8.5 billion industrial giant.

Mischievous banking sources tell me that at the beginning of the year Weir Group and rival British engineer IMI, which makes valves, had tentative discussions about combining their businesses.

Now, I was initially sceptical about this piece of gossip because Mark Selway, the former chief executive of Weir Group, officially started his new job as the boss of IMI at the beginning of the year. So, an immediate move by IMI to merge with Weir Group, Mr Selway's old employer, is pretty punchy.

My sources, though, stand by the story, telling me they heard it on "good authority". Apparently, advisers weren't involved in the conversations between Weir Group and IMI.

Some readers might also be scratching their heads, wondering how such a deal could have been possible given Weir Group's market capitalisation is substantially larger than IMI.

However, at the beginning of 2014 both companies were trading with roughly the same market capitalisations - about £4.5 billion.

Alas, the so-called talks between Weir Group and IMI fell apart by the end of March, according to my sources.

Since then, Weir Group's share price has rallied significantly while IMI's shares have headed in the opposite direction, so I wouldn't expect this deal - if it was ever on - to be rekindled anytime soon.

Weir Group and IMI both declined to comment.

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