Aton’s revised R17/a share offer for Murray & Roberts and M&R’s proposed tie-up with Aveng is starting to sound like former US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s take on whether Iraq was supplying weapons of mass destruction to "terrorists" in 2002. "As we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know," Rumsfeld infamously mused.

When it comes to the M&R takeover saga, Aton’s revised and now "mandatory" offer that takes into account "heightened interest" from a possible Aveng transaction is a "known known". So is the M&R independent board’s assertion that this still undervalues the company, and that a fair price is between R20 and R22/share. But there are also "known unknowns", such as whether Aton — which now holds about 44% of M&R — will get 50% of the company plus one share that it w...

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