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Mouchel shares soar as takeover speculation mounts

Shares in consultant Mouchel have soared today, rising more than 6% on the back of continued takeover speculation.

Heavy trading in Mouchel shares has prompted the price to break the 270p barrier for the first time in nine months.

Mouchel’s shares last hit this level on 21 April 2009, but then fell back sharply on the back of bleak news from the Middle East.

Mouchel is expected to make an Interim Trading Statement shortly, but is likely to wait until the the Highways Agency announces who will hold Management Agent Contracts (MAC) areas 1 - currenlty held by enterprisemouchel - and 13, currently held by the AmeyMouchel joint venture.

One analyst confirmed that Mouchel: “Is in danger of breaking its banking covenants,” with debt likely to top £9M, and money from Dubai drying-up.

Both MACs are to be re-tendered by the Highways Agency. Amey, Atkins, Carillion and enterprisemouchel have applied for Area 1 - worth £125M over five years; while Amey, Balfour Beatty, Carillion and enterprisemouchel have applied for Area 13 - worth £280M over five years.

Should Mouchel fail to hold one or both of these contracts, VT Group will find itself in a stronger position to buy the consultant and service its debt in the process.

In the past year, Mouchel’s shares hit a high of 384.5p on 30 January 2009.

VT Group approached Mouchel in early December with an offer of 247p, which was later raised to 260p.

Both offers were rejected by the Mouchel board.

VT Group has maintained its interest in Mouchel, but the consultant’s share price now exceeds the last offer made.

The Mouchel board is holding out for 300p per share.

The London Stock Exchange’s Takeover Panel last week told VT Group to either complete or abandon its takeover of Mouchel by March 8.

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