7 March 2012 – Racing Post
By Howard Wright
THE planned acquisition of Arena Leisure by Reuben Brothers, owners of fellow racecourse group Northern Racing, was given the go-ahead on Wednesday by shareholders, who polled more than 99 per cent in favour in two separate votes required under the terms of the takeover.
Brothers David and Simon Reuben, the publicity-shy private investors who are using Aldersgate, one of their investment vehicles, in the deal, already control 29.8 per cent of Arena shares. Their offer of 44.25p per share values the company at around £167 million.
As a result of their existing involvement, they were not allowed to take part in the first vote, which registered 99.39 per cent approval from those Arena shareholders who did participate.
In the second vote, which included the Reubens, the acceptance level reached 99.62 per cent.
Having cleared these two hurdles by a wide margin, the deal faces one more obstacle – an automatic referral to the Office of Fair Trading – before it can become effective.
OFT officials, who have asked interested parties for observations about an arrangement that would bring 16 racecourses, staging 37.7 per cent of Britain’s fixtures this year, under one umbrella, revealedon Wednesday that they expected to make a decision whether to refer the deal to the Competition Commission by 26 March at the latest.
Arena chairman David Thorpe said: “We’re delighted with the result and the confidence the shareholders have placed in the board’s decision to accept the offer from Aldersgate.”
Chief executive Mark Elliott added: “The board’s position about the OFT has not changed. We continue to believe there are no grounds for a referral to the Competition Commission.”