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07 Oct 05. BAE Systems, whose decision to sell its German subsidiary Atlas Elektronik has led to unexpectedly competitive bidding by all of Europe’s largest defence groups, this week told three bidders that they had made the shortlist for the Bremen-based submarine electronics specialist. According to industry executives briefed on BAE’s decision, the bidders include two European offers – one from Paris-based Thales and the other a joint bid from German steel group ThyssenKrupp and aerospace giant EADS – and L-3 Communications, the acquisition-hungry American company that is looking to break into the European market. Analysts estimate the sale price could approach €300m ($365m). The inclusion of Thales and the joint Thyssen-EADS bids for Atlas was widely expected. Thales is a leader in naval electronics, and company executives have hinted the joint bidders were willing to pay a premium to BAE because it would round out an already impressive portfolio of naval combat system businesses. The Thyssen-EADS offer is believed to have the support of the German government, which has become increasingly adamant about keeping domestic defence assets in the hands of German companies. L-3’s finalist status, however, is likely to come as a surprise, since it has only recently joined its more established American competitors in attempting to expand in Europe. Earlier this year, the company’s charismatic chief executive, Frank Lanza, opened a London office and has publicly announced he is seeking European acquisitions. Despite a meteoric rise in the US – Mr Lanza founded the firm just 9 years ago, but through acquisitions has built it into one of the Pentagon’s top 10 suppliers – L-3’s involvement in European programmes has so far been limited. BAE said it was not prepared to disclose details: “As anticipated we have had a good level of interest both in terms of value and quality of proposals.” (Source: FT)

05 Oct 05. Brandes Investment Partners, the US value investor that owns large stakes in several leading British companies, has sold its shareholding in BAE Systems. The secretive San Diego-based fund was the UK defence group’s biggest shareholder at the beginning of the year with a 13 per cent stake, but has been selling down its investment. (Source: FT)

06 Oct 05. A strong rebound in its business in the Americas helped Accenture, the IT consulting and outsourcing company, to beat its own and Wall Street revenue and earnings forecasts for the three months to the end of August, the final quarter of its fiscal year. The company also became the latest in the technology sector to respond to calls from Wall Street to start paying a regular dividend to shareholders. The initial annual payment of 30 cents a share is equivalent to a dividend yield of 1.2 per cent, broadly in line with other tech companies and below the wider market average. Accenture reported a 22 per cent jump in revenues in the Americas, to $1.835bn, compared to a 4 per cent increase seen in the preceding three months. The bounce reflected Accenture’s own efforts to revitalise the business, including appointing new management, as well as a pick-up in the underlying market, said William Green, chief executive officer. (Source: FT)

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