Carlyle agrees compromise deal for Freeport

The Carlyle Group has sweetened its offer to secure a take-private deal for Freeport, a £155 million European retail park developer, after talks seemed to have stalled.

The Carlyle Group has agreed to buy listed European property company Freeport for £155.3 million (€228.7 million; $304.0 million), resurrecting a deal that seemed to have fallen by the wayside.

Carlyle will pay 410 pence per share in cash to take Freeport private. This values the company at £155.3 million and represents a 12 percent premium on the closing price last Friday.

The buyout firm has already secured acceptances from Freeport’s board, Laxey Partners, Schroders and Guinness Peat, who together control 49 percent of the shares.

Carlyle’s bid for Freeport, which develops out-of-town factory outlet retail parks across Europe, appeared to have collapsed in February after the two groups failed to reach an agreement on price. At the time Freeport said it was pulling out of the process because negotiations were taking too long and no credible bid had been forthcoming.

Carlyle had originally begun talking to Freeport in December about a potential offer at 437 pence per share, but the buyout firm dropped its bid price to about 400 pence per share following a number of write-downs and valuation cuts by Freeport. This caused the latter to reject the offer outright and withdraw from negotiations.

However, Carlyle has been able to secure the backing of the company’s biggest shareholders by upping its offer to 410 pence per share.

Freeport chairman Robin Binks said that although the board had confidence in its current turnaround plan: “Carlyle’s offer is, nevertheless, attractive as it removes any performance or timing risks and gives shareholders a cash premium.”