Hunter bows out of turf war

A breakthrough this week in the engaging battle of Dobbies, which has pitted the might of Tesco against Sir Tom Hunter, Scotland's Richest Man, with control of the garden centre chain going to the winner. Hunter's West Coast Capital vehicle appears to have thrown in the towel, having announced that it won't be making a bid to counter Tesco's latest £15-a-share offer. There's a sense of the inevitable about that. Hunter may be a belligerent scrapper, but when it comes to squaring up to Terry Leahy and his mob, even the toughest face the eventual choice of submitting or taking a shoeing.

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Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012
Hunter hasn't gone down peacefully though, and has aimed some vitriol at the Dobbies board, claiming they had ‘rolled over too quickly' instead of inviting a proper bidding process to develop. The board is encouraging its shareholders to accept Tesco's ‘very generous' offer, wise perhaps given that it is now the only bidder. But should Tesco succeed it won't have heard the last of Hunter - he is sitting on a 26% Dobbies stake, and has made it clear he won't accept the bid. 

Dobbies' shareholders have until 19 August to make their minds up. The company's board has illustrated a stark choice - accept Tesco's bid, or be saddled with two major shareholders with conflicting interests. Looks like the ‘lawnmowers at 20 paces' drama isn't over yet.

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