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Aviva’s Murphy says F&C offer is low and tips rival bids

Aviva’s Murphy says F&C offer is low and tips rival bids

One of the largest holders of F&C Asset Management has said its takeover offer from Bank of Montreal (BMO) is ‘at the bottom end’ of his expectations, and that rival groups may take the opportunity to size up the business.

Chris Murphy’s (pictured) £948 million Aviva UK Equity Income fund has around a 1.6% holding in F&C, the fourth largest holding in a retail fund.

Aviva Investors is the largest shareholder in F&C with a 12.11% stake.

‘Our view is we are supportive of the deal at the moment but it’s at the bottom end of the range of our expectations,’ Murphy said.

‘It’s a good quality asset. The price could go up and someone else could look at the business.’

BMO is looking to acquire F&C Asset Management in a £708 million deal, offering shareholders 120p per share alongside a 2p dividend.

The manager’s comments add to a chorus of people questioning whether BMO will face a bidding war for the fund group.

Standard Life Investments, which has a 10.3% stake in F&C, said it is keeping its options open ‘should another suitor for F&C emerge’, branding BMO’s offer on the low side.

Murphy added: ‘We are long-term owners and if it takes a long time so be it, but clearly other people are saying as well they would like to see a larger price.’

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