Takeover Guidance

Lord Lee of Trafford and Patron of ShareSoc has been invited to meet the new chief of the Takeover Panel, Ian Hart. This follows Lord Lee’s actions earlier this year including a Parliamentary Question and a major article in the Times. Backed by ShareSoc, he lobbied for companies to let their owners (their shareholders) know as soon as possible about potential bids, even if they have to say “there can be no certainty that an offer will ultimately be made”. He highlighted Signature Aviation, which had kept investors in the dark for 10 months in 2020, during which its directors received several approaches from two or more investment groups. The lack of disclosure effectively created a false market in its shares as investors continued to trade in blissful ignorance.

Just last week the Investors Chronicle wrote about takeovers. IC noted:

Anyone selling Morrisons shares after Monday 14 June, when the unsolicited approach was made, must have been kicking themselves. So should shareholders have been told more promptly? Lord John Lee thinks so. 

Since directors have a duty to “lead, steward and serve shareholders”, are they at fault for failing to inform them better? Well, no. That’s because they have to be guided by the Takeover Panel, which says that, as long as there are no leaks, directors need say nothing until a potential buyer has “a firm intention” of making a bid. That’s what Lord Lee wants changed – but if changes are to be made, the government has said that the panel itself must make them.

The full article can be read here https://www.investorschronicle.co.uk/news/2021/07/22/private-equity-the-unlevel-playing-field/

Ian Hart, 54, is currently joint Chairman of UK Investment Banking at UBS. He started his career in banking at S.G.Warburg in 1990, moving to Schroders in 1996 and Morgan Stanley in 2009 before returning to UBS in 2016. With 30 years experience in the industry, he is one of UBS’s most experienced UK financial advisory practitioners. He has a broad range of experience acting for clients across a wide range of different industries, including on hostile and recommended bids and bid defences, mergers, private company acquisitions and disposals, equity issues and corporate reorganisations.

Ian took up his appointment as Director General of the Takeover Panel on 1 July 2021. He will be on a two year secondment from UBS.

Cliff Weight, Director, ShareSoc

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