01 March 2007 – The Journal (Newcastle)
Shareholders in bar and club operator Ultimate Leisure have voted to allow a scheme that will help provide £75m to spend on acquisitions.
Chief executive Mark Jones announced in January that Ultimate wanted to issue new shares to raise £25m- and its bankers would provide a “241” facility to take the firm’s acquisition funds up to the £75m figure.
The 14,792,900 new shares in Ultimate will be priced at 169p each, and be bought by Ultimate’s two largest investors – property magnates the Reuben Brothers and the US-based Dawnay, Day Group.
Making the added investment in shares will increase both those shareholders’ stakes in Ultimate to above 30% – the level at which the Takeover Code normally requires the shareholders concerned to launch a bid for the entire business.
But the panel on takeovers and mergers agreed to waive this requirement, as long as the company’s remaining shareholders agreed to `whitewash’ waivers – which they did yesterday afternoon.
When the new placing was announced, Mr Jones said: “With the repositioning of the business through an extensive investment in refurbishment, marketing and training, largely completed, we are now looking to taking the group forward to the next stage of its development.
“The roll-out of Prohibition (an upmarket bar brand) is already being funded by bank debt and cash flow. This today is entirely separate funding, to take the business to a very different place.This fundraising will be used principally to buy companies.”
He said he would be seeking to buy operators who serve the premium end of the leisure marketplace, including serving food, and attract a broader base in age profile than some bars.
The new ordinary shares will start trading at 8am on Tuesday.