Last month, the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan said it was “set to score” with a $115.6-million (CAD) takeover bid for a British firm that runs soccer fields in a country that is mad for the sport.
Instead, the pension fund was handed a red card – by the company’s shareholders.
Teachers was eliminated from the running for the U.K.’s Goals Soccer Centres PLC when only 71.4 per cent of its shareholders voted in favour of the Canadian pension plan’s offer.
The deal, which had the support of the Goals Soccer board, required approval from 75 per cent of shareholders to go through.
Goals Soccer says it is not in discussions with any other potential bidders and its chairman, Sir Rodney Walker, said the company will be focusing on its own strategy now.
The firm owns and operates 43 outdoor football stadiums in Britain and one in the U.S. The fields can be rented for children’s parties, corporate events or regular games with friends.
Goals has about 800 employees, and last year booked revenues of £30.4-million ($37.7-million). Its focus is on running smaller fields that accommodate games of five players per team, rather than 11.
It’s not clear why Teachers’ offer failed to receive the necessary level of shareholder support, but it is an unusual loss in the world of mergers and acquisitions.
“We cannot remember a similar instance where shareholders voted down a firm bid with no alternative offer and the obvious immediate share price downside,” Panmure Gordon analyst Simon French told Reuters, adding that an offer from a new bidder was unlikely.
Goals shares fell 20 per cent on the London Stock Exchange Wednesday to 115.5 pence.
The average closing price in the six months ended March 30, just before the pension fund approached Goals about a deal, was 97.9 pence.
The independent directors of the company had been advised by bankers at Canaccord Genuity that Teachers’ offer was fair and reasonable for its shareholders.
Teachers’ is unlikely to take another run at the company.
U.K. takeover rules present a significant obstacle to mounting another takeover deal so soon after a rejection.