New takeover deadline

LONG-SUFFERING shareholders in Gresham Hotels continued to inch towards the exit yesterday as the consortium preparing a takeover bid was granted another week to make an offer.

In a statement to the stock exchange, the Takeover Panel said it agreed to a new deadline of February 6 for the unnamed consortium to set out its proposals for making an offer for Gresham.

Talks are still ongoing between the Gresham board and the consortium, which is believed to be made up of three private investors. Both sides asked the Takeover Panel for an extension to yesterday’s deadline as they have yet to agree a basis for proceeding to a formal takeover

announcement. The Takeover Panel said the consortium’s offer proposal had a number of preconditions, including the completion of due diligence to allow the potential buyers to examine Gresham’s business. This process would take “a number of weeks,” according to the Takeover Panel.

Gresham shares rose 3c to €1.23 following the announcement. The consortium has already indicated it would pay in the region of €1.35 per share, but market analysts expect a higher price may be necessary to swing Gresham’s largest shareholder, the Israeli Red Sea Hotel Group that owns 28% of Gresham.

The consortium recently dropped a key precondition requiring the support of 80% of shareholders before proceeding with a takeover bid. If Red Sea support is not forthcoming, however, the consortium could still force a takeover by acquiring more than 50% of the company.

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