According to the British press, two telecoms firms have emerged as possible ‘white knights’ in the battle by Thus to fend off an unwanted GBP302 million (USD596 million) bid from Cable & Wireless. Global Crossing and Colt Telecom have reportedly been in contact with Thus’s banking adviser, although the Sunday Times said no firm proposals had been tabled. Thus, a corporate telecoms provider, is under pressure to produce an alternative bidder in order to convince investors that it is right not to enter into talks with C&W, which tabled the 165 pence a share offer in late May. C&W has given itself until the end of this month to proceed with a firm offer or walk away. Management, led by chief executive John Pluthero and chairman Richard Lapthorne, have so far been frustrated at Thus’s reluctance to enter talks. It believes a combination of the two companies will create an enlarged group with ‘greater scale, product and service capability and financial strength’.
Thus – formerly part of Scottish Power until its stock market flotation in 1999 – owns Demon broadband and also counts large businesses and public sector bodies as clients. It employs more than 1,700 people and last week posted its first operating profits for the year to the end of March, with a GBP4 million surplus, compared to a GBP11.1 million loss previously. As at 31 December 2007 Amber Capital Investment Management owned 10.96% of the company, Columbia Ventures Corporation (CVC) 8.74%, Aviva 8.55% and Investec 5.11%; no other single investor holds more than a 5% stake.