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Britain’s last independent haulier subject of US-French bidding war

Wincanton, which was founded in 1925, is best known for its blue and white lorries on UK motorways
Wincanton, which was founded in 1925, is best known for its blue and white lorries on UK motorways - ZarkePix/Alamy Stock Photo

A bidding war has broken out over Britain’s last independent haulier after a US logistics giant threatened to gatecrash a £600m takeover by a French billionaire-backed suitor.

Wincanton, which transports groceries for Sainsbury’s and Morrisons, said on Monday morning that a rival bidder had sounded out the company.

US giant GXO has since been named as the potential suitor, in a move that threatens to scupper a rival offer from CMA CGM, which has already won the backing of the board.

CMA CGM today bumped its original bid from £765m to £802m to win over shareholders unconvinced by the original bid. That represents an 6.7pc increase from 450p to 480p per share.

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The logistics giant is owned by French billionaire Rodolphe Saadé and his family, who are worth an estimated $9.8bn (£7.7bn).

Wincanton has opened up its books to allow GXO to complete due diligence, with the US company’s involvement first reported by Sky News. There is no certainty GXO will mount a rival bid although shares have since surged past the 480p offer price to 504p.

CMA CGM could be forced to pledge more cash if GXO tables a superior offer.

For now, top shareholders Aberforth Partners and The Wellcome Trust, have thrown their weight behind the CMA CGM bid. They had originally failed to offer their support at 450p but the 480p bid appears to have convinced them.

Threadneedle, Schroders and Polar Capital had backed the original deal.

CGA CGM now has 35pc of shareholders on board but needs 75pc to clinch the takeover.

Wincanton started life transporting milk from farms to homes and shops in 1925.

Its main business now involves running warehouses and transporting goods businesses like Argos and Waitrose. It is best known for its blue and white lorries on UK motorways.

Wincanton is the last remaining specialist UK haulier left listed on the stock market after Clipper Logistics and DX Group were also sold.

GXO was contacted for comment.