Finally German industrial group Aton has made a smart tactical move. Up to now it has seemed quite flat-footed as it has been forced to react to smart moves by the Murray & Roberts (M&R) team. That Aton’s takeover of M&R is not much closer to finalisation is entirely due to moves by the M&R board. It has even managed to get Aton into the unenviable position of not being able to walk away from its offer to M&R shareholders. The German group may have assumed the South African shareholders would have been delighted with any offer to bail them out of an investment that has been on a long-term decline. Instead, Aton has been dragged through regulatory bodies and been forced to make a mandatory offer to M&R shareholders and increase the offer price. By buying just over 25% of Aveng, Aton has made sure it is in a position to block M&R’s proposed bid to buy 100% of Aveng. The M&R board has vehemently denied the Aveng proposal is intended to frustrate the Aton bid, which would be a contraven...

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