Troubled banknote printer De La Rue has confirmed a takeover approach for the group in the wake of its recent production problems.
De La Rue, which prints money for the Government, said the potential offer – said to be worth around £750 million – was “highly preliminary and opportunistic”.
It is thought French rival Oberthur Technologies is behind the bid move, which comes after shares in De La Rue have slumped by nearly a third following production woes in July with one of its biggest clients, believed to be the Indian Government.
The troubles claimed the scalp of former chief executive James Hussey and has cost the group £35 million.
The world’s biggest banknote printer said volumes are set to drop 20% this year following the crisis, which suspended production and a shipment of the affected banknote for two months.
The group posted a 57% rise in pre-tax profits to £69.4 million in the six months to September 25 after the hit from the production issues was offset by the sale of assets and the closure of a pension scheme. It is unclear what affect the problems will have on its full-year accounts.Shares in De La Rue raced as much as 26% higher on news of the bid interest.
James Bishop, an analyst at Investec Securities, said there was potential for De La Rue to drive a good price for the business.
He said: “While the short-term quality problems are material, De La Rue has a very strong market position in a market that has little spare capacity to produce an obviously valuable product. We would, hence, expect a materially higher bid to be necessary to secure support.”
De La Rue has claimed the production issues, which are believed to have taken place at a plant in Overton, Hampshire, were caused by some employees deliberately falsifying paper specification test certificates for some banknote customers. It admitted that standards were not met, but has stressed that security features in the paper were not compromised.
The firm has carried out its own inquiry and passed a file to the Serious Fraud Office for investigation.