City firms pull off Unitech take-over

Steven Turnbull and Patrick Wrignell from Linklaters & Paines and Nigel Boardman and Frances Murphy from Slaughter and May headed rival teams of lawyers who struck the £520 million agreed take-over of Unitech by Siebe.

Engineering company Siebe, headed by Barrie Stephens, was represented by Linklaters while Slaughters acted for Unitech, an electronics group with over 50 per cent of Tokyo-based high-tech company Lemic Lambda.

The 715p a share offer from Siebe means that Unitech chair Peter Curry's holding in the company is valued at £4.4 million. He also owns share options with a potential profit of about £380,000.

The deal will establish Siebe as the world's largest supplier of transformers and control systems.

Analysts expect more mergers in the high-tech end of the engineering sector which recently saw Farnell Electronics take over Premier in the US.

Boardman, one of Slaughters' top company partners, said the deal was relatively straightforward, helped by the high level of co-operation between the directors of both companies.

The acquisition has been under negotiation since Siebe acquired a 25 per cent stake of Unitech four weeks ago when it bought shares previously controlled by Swiss company Electrowatt.

Unitech, whose management is highly regarded in the City, is particularly attractive to Siebe because of its exposure to Far East markets via Lemic Lambda.

Nemic has established factories outside Japan where labour costs have soared in recent years, moving into places such as Malaysia and China.