You could almost hear a whooshing sound as the Sovereign share price plummeted when news broke that the Takeover Regulation Panel had put a halt to Country Bird’s planned takeover. And then came the thud as it stopped long before expected. At the close of the market on Tuesday, the shares were trading in good volumes at 851c, down just 7.4% on the day. Some traders had expected to see it crash closer to 700c. The 13% of shareholders who thought they had a deal with Country Bird Holdings to offload at 900c will be relieved at the signs of support. But unless there’s a white knight waiting to swoop in and buy Country Bird’s 34.1% shareholding, it is difficult to see the takeover panel’s ruling as anything more than a Pyrrhic victory for Sovereign. If Country Bird does get the Competition Commission’s approval to merge with Sovereign, it’s difficult to see it selling its shares. Country Bird has said it’s going nowhere, which means Sovereign is stuck with a major shareholder with whom ...

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