Duke Street wins Esporta battle

The leisure firm’s board has recommended that shareholders accept the revised 87.5 pence per share offer, effectively ending its hostility to Duke Street’s overtures.

The board of Esporta, the health and fitness group, has recommended that shareholders accept the 87.5 pence per share that private equity manager Duke Street Capital offered last Friday in a bid to finally overcome the board’s resistance to a proposed public to private takeover.

Friday’s offer constituted a 9 per cent increase on the original offer submitted to shareholders in May.

The revised terms were presented after Duke Street, which had first made an offer for Esporta in May, bought additional shares in the company from Crown Sport for 87.5 pence, thereby taking its stake above the 29.9 per cent threshold that in line with London Stock Exchange regulations forces a bidder to make an outright offer.

The revised offer values Esporta at £145m, a 70 per cent premium to the firm’s share price on 19 October 2001, the day before bid speculation started to drive up the stock.

Esporta’s board said in a statement that Duke Street mandatory cash offer continued “to undervalue Esporta, which has seen a significant improvement under new management.”