10 DECEMBER 1988, Page 27

Up Murdoch's sleeve

RUMMER and rummer at Collins. Rupert Murdoch's offer document confirms that he is unhappy with the management (or rather with the loss of good managers), chairman Ian Chapman retorts that Collins is just one slightly smaller happy family, and the share price, 150p above the bid, insists that Mr Murdoch will pay more. I reflect that Mr Murdoch has more up his sleeve than money. Through News Inter- national he is the biggest shareholder in Collins with 42 per cent of the votes, and the remaining shares are widely scattered. I see nothing to stop him calling an extraordinary general meeting, on a re- solution to unseat Mr Chapman and bring his own people in (or back), and challeng- ing the board to rustle up enough votes to stop him. In most company polls, when you allow for abstentions and muddles, 42 per cent of the shares in one hand is good enough to win. An agreed bid could follow, in his own time, on his own terms. If I held the shares I wouldn't wait for it.