Alan Cherry, the chairman of Countryside Properties, was this week poised to take the company private after rival shareholder Rock Pacific agreed to support his improved £222m offer for the firm.
The five-month battle for control between the Cherry family and Rock Pacific drew to a close last Friday after Cherry raised his 275p-a-share offer, which had not received enough shareholder backing to be successful, to 280p.
Before the revised offer, investment company Rock Pacific, which owns 28.1% of Countryside’s shares, said it would block Cherry’s bid and possibly make its own offer.
Once the Cherry family receives acceptance of the improved offer from 90% of shareholders it is permitted by takeover rules to buy any remaining shares.
After it became clear earlier this month that the Cherry family’s 275p offer was likely to fail, the takeover panel gave Rock Pacific more time to make a bid of its own.
Cherry reacted to this news by improving its own offer. Rock then issued a a statement in which it said that “following further due diligence information, Rock Pacific concluded that the proposed investment would not meet its investment return criteria”.
At no point did Rock table a formal offer but by forcing the Cherry family into a corner it has secured a better price for its support.
The Cherry family, advised by Pricewaterhouse Coopers and Merrill Lynch, issued the revised offer document this week.
Rothschild is advising Countryside’s independent committee. Rock is led by property entrepreneur Paul Kelmsley; its investors include Tottenham Hotspur chairman Daniel Levy and billionaire Joe Lewis.
Countryside’s share price fell 6p to 277p, reflecting the fact that a another bid is not expected.
Month-by-month: The fight for Countryside Properties
2 September Countryside announces Cherry family is to bid for company
23 September Countryside issues a profit warning
15 October Another downbeat statement
12 November Cherry family makes a 275p-a-share offer
21 December Rock Pacific, which controls 28.1% of shares, rejects the bid
21 January Cherry family raises bid to 280p a share; accepted by Rock