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Full takeover bid for Horizon as interest mounts

Wednesday 13th January 2010

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Eastern Bay Energy Trust is to make a full takeover bid for the local monopoly lines company, NZX-listed Horizon Energy Distribution, the trust announced this morning.

EBET will offer $4 a share for the 22.7% of Horizon that it does not already own, just above the $3.96 offered in a failed bid by Marlborough Lines to acquire 51% of Horizon in September last year.

The trust's stated justification for the bid rests on the importance of parochial ownership to preserve local jobs and wealth. The Horizon board will be responding with a Target Company statement ahead of the intended February 13 opening date for the offer. 

A postal poll of trust consumers will also be required prior to the bid proceeding.

EBET chairman David Bulley said the trust believes "it is important that local ownership of this strategic local infrastructure asset is secured, given that there has been a recent partial takeover offer and the possibility of other offers emerging.

"We have a firm view that the local headquarters and local jobs be retained and this cannot be guaranteed if there is not local control. "

Horizons chairman Rob Tait said directors had yet to consider the offer and would appoint an independent adviser to report on its merits.

The Horizon share price jumped 24 cents a share in early trading this morning to $3.29, having last traded on December 29 at $3.05.  Horizon shares have traded between $2.80 and $3.51 in the last 12 months.

No one from Marlborough Lines was immediately available for comment on whether the company had given up its interest in acquiring a stake in Horizon.

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