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Lone shareholder tries to scupper BT's Cellnet buy out

Deal with Securicor over future of mobile carrier is under fire

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BT's bid to buy the 40 per cent of Cellnet that it doesn't already own, has run into trouble. A US investor in Securicor, the security company that helped set up Cellnet, has objected to the deal, saying that the bid is too low. BT needs to get the remaining shares to be able to bid for a third generation mobile licence. The objections raised by Abner Kurtin, who has a 0.5 per cent stake in Securicor, could mean BT has to renegotiate the £3.1 billion deal. Mr Kurtin says that the value attached to each subscriber - in Cellnet's case £1700 - is much lower than the £3500 estimate attributed to other mobile carriers. He commented: "There seems to be some consensus that the bid is too low, but not about how to get a higher value." He wants Securicor to either renegotiate, or spin off its security communications and distribution divisions to leave share holders with a stake in Cellnet. His alternative if these pleas fall of deaf ears is for the shareholders to block the deal. However, he may be alone in his dissent. Jim McCafferty, an analyst at SG Securities told The Times: "Securicor has quite a reasonable deal here. My advice to shareholders is to accept." ®

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