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A bid from the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan to buy Goals Soccer Centres, the UK five-a-side football pitch company, has fallen through after it failed to gain enough support from shareholders.
The 144p-per-share offer mustered the support of 71.4 per cent of voting shareholders – just short of the 75 per cent required to push through the deal. The remaining 28.6 per cent of shareholders voted against the deal, which valued the company at £73.1m.
Shares in the East Kilbride-based group tumbled by as much as a quarter following the announcement, closing at 115.5p. One person close to the deal labelled the vote a “surprise” after Goals’ board had unanimously backed the deal in July.
Keith Rogers, chief executive of Goals, said: “Obviously we are disappointed that we have not struck a deal, however, to have a significant percentage of shareholders believing that our company is worth considerably more is testament to the great business we have built.”
“We are now totally focused on our stated strategy to continue to build on the considerable success that has already been achieved.”
The rejection means that OTPP is unable to make a new board-backed offer for six months, and must wait a year before it can make an offer without board approval. The shares had rallied by more than a third after OTPP first approached the group.
Patron Capital, the private equity group that controls Goals chief rival Powerleague, dropped out of the race to buy Goals earlier in August. Goals said on Wednesday that it was not in discussions with any other potential buyer. Patron could not be reached for comment.
OTPP, which also controls the National Lottery operator Camelot, originally approached Goals in April. The offer represented a near 50 per cent premium to the Goals’ average closing price before the group confirmed bid interest.
The pension fund already owns stakes in a number of sporting assets, including the Toronto Maple Leafs ice hockey team, as well as Toronto FC, the Canadian Major League Soccer team.
Goals was founded in 2000 and was listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2004, trading on Aim.
The group, which provides floodlit pitches that use artificial grass, has 43 centres in the UK, as well as one in Los Angeles. It reported profit before tax of £9.2m from sales of £30.4m in its full-year results in 2011, a year in which it opened five new UK centres.