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P&O shareholders vote to accept DP World takeover... RIP P&O

From Direct Ferries:

P&O shareholders vote to accept DP World takeover
Date: 14 Feb 2006
Source: Lloyds List

P&O shareholders voted overwhelmingly in favour of DP World’s $6.8bn takeover offer late yesterday but not before the board had faced angry questioning over the sale of the company to a foreign buyer from a small but vociferous band of opponents.

More than 99% of shareholders voted through a series of resolutions in support of P&O’s sale to the Dubai ports company at an extraordinary general meeting held just days after a rival bid by Singapore’s PSA Corp was withdrawn.

Chairman Sir John Parker confirmed that the new owner would continue to use the P&O name that had helped boost the price to be paid for the ports and ferries group to an unprecedented level.

“DP World see that part of the value of P&O is in its name and they intend to retain that brand,” Sir John said.

Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, chairman of DP World, told Lloyd’s List he was “very happy” with the result which he said was a vote of confidence in his company and its plans for the future of P&O.

The structure of the greatly enlarged group would be determined very soon, he said at the end of the EGM. Mr Bin Sulayem also moved to dispel concern about the future of P&O’s ferry operations. “We have bought everything including the ferries and we will look at every asset and how to grow them,” he promised.

After the EGM, former P&O chairman Lord Sterling praised the board for what had “not been an easy decision”.

He also paid tribute to Dubai – “fast becoming one of the world’s great city states”.

P&O will be delisted next month. The timetable is for shareholders to receive their money by March 16.

During a series of stockholder meetings at the Wembley Conference Centre, Sir John stressed that P&O was not up for sale when it first received an approach from DP World last November, followed by another from PSA Corp.

That was subsequently topped by Dubai which is paying 520 pence per share. PSA, which had offered 470 pence, quit the takeover battle late last week.

Both approaches were unsolicited, Sir John told the meeting. Furthermore, the final offer from DP World represented a 71% premium over the price P&O shares were trading at before the Dubai ports company first made contact. That had raised the value of P&O by £1.6bn ($2.8bn) since the first bid was tabled.

While non-executive directors and the chairman will step down as soon as the sale is completed, Sir John said P&O’s chief executive Robert Woods would be staying on to assist with the integration process.

Despite the amount P&O will be sold for, small shareholders attacked directors for recommending the bid.

“I am astounded by your lack of patriotism,” Captain David Hawker, a fierce opponent for the deal and a familiar shareholder dissident, told the meeting of around 200 people including a delegation from Dubai.

“Seafarers built the British Empire, he continued, to applause from other individuals.



Best regards from Lisbon,
Paulo Mestre

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On Sunday 4 February 1951 at 9pm HIMALAYA and CHUSAN passed each other in the Indian Ocean. The poet A.P.Herbert wrote:

"Ah, yes, the distant stranger in the night
May leave no memory but one red light.
But you should see two sisters pass in style
No farther than a fraction of a mile.
The latest, swiftest of a splendid line,
As like as bottles of a noble wine.
The houseflag flutters in a flood of light,
Salute of sirens shocking the velvet night.
Here are no strangers. Officer and man
are life-long members of a loyal clan.
We crowd the rails, mere passengers and yell,
Tonight, proud ownere of the line as well.
Such vessels for a centuryand more,
Have made the sea as solid as the shore.
Such ships have made all capricorn a friend,
And Sydney not much further than Southend.
(And may we whisper, every vessel flies
The ancient flag of Private Enterprise).
The lights, the signals die. The sisters part
But something bright long lingers in the heart:
And British breasts may be allowed to swell,
For here's a thing we still do rether well.
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