14 February 1997

CWS denies bid rumour

CO-OPERATIVE Wholesale Society bosses have poured cold water on speculation this week that investment trust, Lanica, was poised to make a hostile bid for parts of the business.

CWS is one of the countrys largest farming companies with over 20,000ha (50,000 acres) under its control. In the last financial year CWS Agriculture made a £5.6m contribution to group profits of £59m, on sales of just £27m.

Run by entrepreneur Andrew Regan, Lanica is understood to be interested in various parts of CWS, including the funeral, pharmacy and possibly farming activities. Its shares have surged on the speculation. But in a statement this week, CWS said the first it knew of Lanicas impending approach was through leaked Press reports.

"The focus of the society, under its new management team, is concentrated on improving the performance in all its businesses and contributing to the further development of the co-op sector," it said. There were no plans to dispose of any businesses or assets to Mr Regan or his investment company. &#42