UK: Lees Foods silent on investor buy-out campaign
Scottish cake maker Lees Foods has declined to comment on the launch of an online campaign by a number of its private investors attempting to stop a management buy-out of the company.
Last month, the directors of Lees Foods launched a GBP5.6m (US$8.9m) takeover bid for the firm. Randotte, a company formed by the directors for the purposes of the acquisition attempt, offered 230 pence per share in a bid to acquire 100% of Lees' outstanding share capital.
The offer price represents a 12.5% premium on the weighted average closing price for Lees shares over the past six months and a 2.7% premium of the closing price of 224 pence on 5 April, the last trading day before the announcement.
Shareholder group ShareSoc, however, has since launched an online campaign aimed at rallying together small investors opposed to the buy-out. The group is aiming to block the deal at the proposed price being offered by Randotte, and has suggested a price of 325p to 350p as "a more reasonable offer".
"Many shareholders are displeased with the level of the offer," ShareSoc says on its website. "The 230p offer was only at a very small premium to the previous closing price when it was first revealed. Bearing in mind that the insiders involved in the take-over bid may not be able to vote on the offer, it may be possible to frustrate the bid."
ShareSoc is now urging shareholders in Lees Foods to contact the group to "co-ordinate action" on the issue or go to a dedicated website to register interest and "express your opinion".
"There are other peculiar aspects of this matter. There is, for example, a suggestion that the year-end accounts are being delayed, with only 2011 interim accounts being referenced in the offer document. Is this yet another example of the poor corporate governance demonstrated by many AIM companies?," ShareSoc notes.
When contacted by just-food, a spokesperson for Lees Foods said it had "no reason" to comment on the campaign and said the company was currently "wading through the procedures" for the buy-out.
The Lees buy-out team includes chief executive Clive Miquel and directors David Simon, Nadia Miller, Albert Croll and Klaus Perch-Nielsen, who collectively own around 48% of the business.
According to The Scotsman, the buy-out is being carried out through a scheme of arrangement, with a court date set for 15 May.
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