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Consortium May Lift Informa Bid

LONDON, Sept 5 (Reuters) – The private equity consortium rebuffed in its bid for British publishing group Informa Plc (INF.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) could return with a slightly higher offer, a source close to the situation told Reuters on Friday.

The publisher of the shipping publication Lloyd’s List on Thursday rejected a reduced offer of 450 pence from the consortium, saying it significantly undervalued the group. It had previously received an approach in July of 506p.

The consortium released a statement on Friday saying it was disappointed with Informa’s decision.

“The consortium is considering its position but emphasises that whilst it is not ruling out any course of action there can be no certainty that it will be prepared to make an offer, either at an increased price, or at all,” the group said.

Shares in Informa fell 9.5 percent in early trade on Friday, but rallied after the Reuters report that the consortium of Carlyle Group [CYL.UL], Providence Equity Partners and Blackstone could return.

Shares in Informa were down 9.5 percent at 375p in early trading before partially recovering to be down 6.5 percent at 387-1/2p by 1206 GMT.

A separate source familiar with the situation told Reuters earlier this week that the consortium was no longer willing to pay its original price for Informa.

Analysts at UBS said earlier they thought it was highly probable the consortium could return with an improved offer, with 475p or above likely to be the level which major shareholders would consider.

Analysts at brokerage Numis also saw a successful bid having to made at around this level, but warned there could be significant share price downside if no deal was arranged.

“We believe 506p would definitely have secured a deal from the point of view of Informa shareholders and somewhere between these two prices (470p-480p) could also deliver,” they said in a note to clients.

Analysts backed Informa’s decision to reject the offer and welcomed a comment in the company’s statement that the board remained confident about the group’s prospects as current trading was in line with expectations.

By Kate Holton and Elena Moya

(Editing by David Holmes, Greg Mahlich)