The battle for control of UK kitchen equipment firm Enodis, which has a base in Halesowen, has taken a fresh twist with reports that initial bidder, US industrial giant Manitowoc, may not be willing to give up its claim on the company without a fight.
Enodis, which has seen adjusted first-half pre-tax profit rise six per cent to £28.3 million, last week rejected Manitowoc's initial £1 billion offer to take over the firm in favour of a new approach from rival US manufacturer, Illinois Tool Works. This was despite the Enodis board initially recommending the Manitowoc offer.
Analysts said last week they would be interested to see if Wisconsin-based Manitowoc had the stomach for a fight and if reports are true, then the firm could be preparing a fresh bid based on 300p a share - a move that values the firm at around £1.03 billion, considerably above the valuation placed on it by Michigan-based ITW.
Under the terms of the ITW offer, Enodis shareholders would receive 280p a share in cash plus a 2p dividend. ITW also said it would safeguard the jobs of all Enodis employees.
The £1.03 billion proposal represents an eight per cent premium on the £948 million deal agreed last month with Manitowoc, which is a specialist in refrigerators and ice-making equipment.
Enodis, which makes fryers, grills and refrigerators for fast-food restaurants such as McDonald's, Burger King, KFC and Subway, draws around 86 per cent of its operating profit from North America and so a link-up could have its benefits.
However, it has already rejected one Manitowoc takeover two years ago, while it has also dismissed approaches from another US firm, Middleby, as well as Solihull-based Aga Foodservice.
However, it said last week that it was willing to consider the ITW bid, a move which saw its share price climb.
The value of the company rose again on Friday amid speculation that a fresh bid was being tabled.
Enodis, which employs more than 6,000 people in eight countries, including 400 at three sites in the UK - 200 people at Scotsman Beverage Systems in Halesowen - last week reported sales up to £394.6 million and despite the woes in the US economy said it was confident in its long-term prospects.
The firm has implemented a cost-cutting programme to insulate itself from the declining market in North America. Measures have included a restructuring of the business and a reduction in staff.