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Of Bulls & Bears

Friday 24th March 2000

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Hint of a bluff over DB Group bid

When it comes to corporate life, Dutch companies make good poker players. That certainly applies to representatives of Dutch giant Heineken (through Asia Pacific Breweries, a Singaporean company Heineken controls). APB's regional director for Southeast Asia & Oceania, Siep Hiemstra, this week said the company, which has launched a $2.80 a share takeover bid for DB Group, was happy with whatever stake it ended up with when its March 27 deadline expired. Investors are in the dark about whether this is so, in which case they had better hurry up and sell, or whether it is just a gambit to unnerve those holding out for a better price. Many believe it is the latter, given there appears to be little benefit in APB moving from its pre-bid stake 58.4% to its current 64.8%. Considering the low level of acceptances so far, a price for DB shares that is well above APB's offer and an independent report indicating the bid is much too low, many investors appear willing to call APB's bluff.

Seafresh sinks - in several ways

Those who have been concerned that the shares of fishing company Seafresh have been sinking like a stone had their worst fears realised this week. The company notified the Stock Exchange on Monday that one of its trawlers had sunk at its moorings in the Chatham Islands but that this event "won't affect the company's operations unduly." This did not have the reassuring effect the company might have hoped for. The shares fell from 13.4c on March 10 (the last day they were traded) to 12c on Monday, down 10%. However, since then they have been stable with no shares being traded. The company cannot blame a sunken trawler for all its share price woes. The shares have been slipping steadily from a high of 22c less than two years ago. At 12c, that's an unpleasant 45% decline.

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