Ontario Teachers' buys UK football centre business

The Canadian pension fund has struck a deal with UK-listed Goals Soccer Centres to buy the 44-centre operation in a deal valued at £73 million.

Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board, the Canadian pension fund, has agreed the buyout of Goals Soccer Centres, an owner and operator of five-a-side soccer centres in the UK. The news follows Ontario Teachers’ indicative offer for the business in April.

The two parties have agreed a deal valued at £73 million (€93 million; $114 million) which will see Goliath, a company controlled by Teacher’s Private Capital – the pension fund’s private equity division – acquire the entire share capital of the listed business.

The purchase price reflects a premium of 34 percent to Goal’s closing share price of 107.5 pence a share on 30 March, which was the last trading day prior to the start of the offer period, and is 6.7 percent higher than Thursday’s closing price of 135 pence.

Should the deal receive shareholder backing, Ontario Teachers would inherit 43 outdoor five-a-side football centres in the UK as well as one centre in the US. These centres generated revenues of £30.4 million last year.

Jo Taylor, vice president at Teachers’ Private Capital, described the transaction as a “win-win” for Goals’ investors which include Aviva Investors, Henderson Global Investors and Universities Superannuation Scheme.

“The management team has built a robust business since acquiring Goals in 2000, and we are excited at the growth plans for the future,” Taylor said. “Our aim is to cement Goals’ position and the UK’s premier 5-a-side operator and help the business to achieve its full potential.”

Rodney Walker, the chairman of Goals, said: “The independent directors unanimously recommend the offer by Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board at a price which offers a significant cash premium to recent market prices. The offer by Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board provides Goals shareholders with certainty in a difficult economic environment, where significant execution risks remain around consumer facing businesses. I and the other independent directors consider that the offer represents a fair and reasonable opportunity for Goals shareholders to realise cash value not otherwise available in the market.”

Patron Capital, the London-based private equity real estate firm which owns another operator of five-a-side centres called Powerleague, is understood to have previously expressed an interest in taking Goals Soccer Centres private.