M Comms and Finsbury locked in Novar battle

M Communications and Finsbury are squaring off against each other following cash shell Melrose’s £1.1bn hostile bid for printing, fire safety and aluminium parts conglomerate Novar.

Novar has dropped Holborn, its retained adviser of seven years, and last Friday drafted in Finsbury to handle the company’s rejection of the Melrose approach.

The move brings to an end Holborn CEO David Bick’s 17-year relationship with Novar, which began with the company’s flotation in 1987 before he founded Holborn.

Finsbury’s appointment follows the arrival of former Cookson group CEO Stephen Howard to replace Jurgen Hintz as chief executive of Novar. Finsbury co-founder Roland Rudd is leading the account.

Melrose has rekindled its relationship with M for its bid for Novar. The cash shell hired the agency to handle comms around the flotation of the firm in November 2003. M co-founder Nick Miles is leading the Melrose account.

Melrose’s creation last year was designed to counter private equity firms’ strategy of acquiring underperforming firms and then selling them on at a later date at the expense of institutional investors.

The shell’s backers – which include Fidelity, Schroders, Deutsche Bank, Jupiter Asset Management and Threadneedle Investment Management – hope to avoid losing out to a private equity raid by making their own approach for Novar.

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