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Lookers ‘still plans to bid for Reg Vardy’

Motor retail analysts have begun to question whether Lookers is capable of its attempt to make a rival bid against Pendragon for Reg Vardy.

The Manchester-based dealer group, headed by chief executive Ken Surgenor, has been trying to secure funding for its own bid since the end of November.

However, days before Christmas, its board released a statement saying it hoped to update the market in the New Year. No further announcement has yet been made, but AM understands that Lookers representatives attended a meeting at Vardy’s headquarters in Sunderland recently.

Lookers statement claimed it was making “good progress” with potential providers of finance – rumoured to be Royal Bank of Scotland and HBOS.

It added that its making of an offer would depend on having the finance agreements in place, so there was no certainty that an offer would follow.

Pendragon is the only dealer to make an offer so far, at 800p per share. Yet it has extended the deadline for Reg Vardy shareholders to approve its bid after just over 1% had accepted by December 28.

It has already received irrevocable acceptance of the 27.2% stake held by Vardy’s board, but the remaining investors now have until January 18 to make up their minds.

The sale of the Reg Vardy group is unlikely to mean the retirement from motor retailing of chief executive Sir Peter Vardy – a member of AM’s senior advisory panel. He has two sons working in the business and is expected to start a new dealer group as their legacy.

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