1,430p-a-share bid 170p shy of expectations
Private equity firm Apax is reported to be planning a£143 million bid for Dobbies Garden Centres. Its 1,430p-a-share bid is 60p higher than yesterday's closing price of 1,370p, but below analyst expectations of 1,500p.

Last week, Dobbies confirmed that it had received an approach, amid speculation that Apax was the front-runner. The retailer said in a statement: 'The board confirms that it has been approached with regard to the possible acquisition of the entire share capital of the company and discussions have taken place. A further announcement will be made in due course.'

However, Seymour Pierce analyst Richard Ratner said last week that the approach was most likely to be from Tom Hunter's West Coast Capital, which bought rival garden centre chain Wyevale last year. He said: 'We believe that the market is expecting a price of about 1,500p a share. However, we are not certain that Hunter would wish to pay that much.'

The Aim-listed garden centre, Britain's second-largest garden chain, operates 21 stores across England and Scotland.

Apax, which last year spent£1.6 billion on fashion label Tommy Hilfiger, recently bought Scandinavian garden centre chain Plantagen. A spokesman confirmed that the private equity group is keen to make further acquisitions.