GKN propels FTSE to new high on bid rejection

GKN - Offer rejected, Automotive and Aerospace to separate

Shares in British engineering firm, GKN, have risen after a takeover bid was rejected by the company.

GKN (GKN) shares jumped 26.3% to 420.1p after the group rejected a 405p per share approach from Melrose, instead setting out plans to split its business in two to unlock value for shareholders.

GKN's board dismissed the offer from Melrose in a unanimous decision. "After a successful turnaround of The Ford Motor Company's businesses in Mexico, Canada and South America, she was appointed as chief operating officer for the Americas where she developed the transformation plan for Ford's United States business".

Attempted #takeover of leading UK #Engineering @GKN_plc by asset stripper melrose.

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GKN said that under the terms of the proposal, GKN shareholders would have held around 57% of the enlarged company, plus 81p in cash, taking the 218p share price of Melrose on 5 January into account.

Melrose responded, saying: "Melrose believes that there would be significant operational and commercial benefits arising from Melrose's ownership of GKN's businesses, reversing a history of existing GKN management not delivering on margin targets.The potential acquisition represents a significant opportunity for Melrose to execute on its strategy of maximising inherent value of specialised industrial businesses it owns". Those calls became louder after a profit warning in October, which was sparked by the difficulties at its aerospace business. The biggest factory, in St Louis in Missouri, makes air frames for F-15 and F/A-18 fighter jets.

After becoming interim chief executive in late 2017, Anne Stevens has been permanently appointed to the post. Now Stevens, a former senior executive at Ford, has been handed the job permanently.

GKN also announced that Anne Stevens, now its interim chief executive, has agreed to take over as the group's new chief executive with immediate effect.

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"GKN also said it intends to separate its aerospace and automotive businesses to "[recognise] the strategic optionality for shareholders in having separate companies with distinct investment profiles and capital allocation policies".

Nicholas Hyett, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said GKN had "made up for years of lumbering progress in a flash".

Prospective bidder Melrose is a turnaround specialist, picking up floundering firms on the cheap with the intention of improving them and selling them off at a higher price.

Within Friday's announcement, GKN alluded that fourth quarter trading was "in line with expectations" and said it still expects the full year's profit before tax to be "slightly ahead" of last year's figure of £678m.

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