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'No monopoly' from Saint-Gobain bid

MATERIALS

FRENCH-owned building product manufacturer SaintGobain is confident its bid to buy Slough-based plasterboard manufacturer BPB will not flounder over monopoly fears.

Some merchants had claimed that any successful takeover bid by Saint-Gobain would give it an unfair slice of the plasterboard market throughout the UK and Europe.

Should the takeover be accepted by BPB shareholders then Saint-Gobain would automatically take the bulk of the UK plasterboard market, with double the share of its nearest rivals Lafarge and Knauf.

These two each produce approximately 20 per cent of the board in the UK but it is the French company's distribution network, which includes builders' merchant giant Jewson and Grahams, that has some firms wor r ied.

When it tabled the £7.20 per share offer two weeks ago Saint-Gobain admitted that any deal would have to be put to anti-trust regulators in both Europe and the United States but analysts claimed the likelihood of anything holding up the move was small.

One said: 'They will have taken advice from their lawyers before the deal and may have to tailor it a little in the long term but in the short term it should not hold things up too much.' Saint-Gobain will send its anti-trust submission to regulators after its offer document has been published next month.