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Takeover bid looming for Eddie Stobart Logistics

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AN approach has been made for a potential takeover of Eddie Stobart Logistics – the company behind the controversial £75 million plan for a national distribution centre on Green Belt land at Appleton Thorn.
The “preliminary expression of interest” comes from the third-biggest shareholder in the company – Isle of Man based DBay Advisors.
It follows the shock announcement in August that Stobart had suspended trading in its shares, was delaying publication of its first-half accounts and was parting company, with immediate effect, with its chief executive, Alex Laffey.
The company revealed a £2 million error in its 2018 results, issued a profits warning and said a review of past accounts was being carried out.
DBay has until October 7 to make a firm offer.
The developments have fueled speculation locally that there could be implications for the firm’s ambitions to expand on Green Belt land at Appleton Thorn, adjoining its existing headquarters.
Warrington Borough Council has approved the company’s planning application, despite strenuous local opposition, but the final decision will be made by the Secretary of State.
The council bought Stobart’s existing headquarters for £26.1 million last year in a deal which is expected to see the company pay the council around £1.2 million a year in rent. Town Hall chiefs say they have “no concerns” about Stobart’s future commitments as a result of the suspension of share trading.
But objectors to the Green Belt scheme see the developments as offering hope that the project may not go ahead.
A consortium of parish councils – the South Warrington Parish Councils Local Plan Working Group – is considering seeking a judicial review of the borough council’s decision and has written to the Secretary of State, calling for a “call in” of the application.
Hundreds of people submitted objections to the Eddie Stobart proposals for Appleton Thorn which were also opposed by Warrington South MP Faisal Rashid.
There was fury when a member of the committee which approved the proposals admitted that he did not even know where the site was.
Stobart operates 2,700 vehicles and 5,000 trailers and employs about 6,600 staff. The business had a market value of £270 million when trading in its shares was halted.

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