14th October 2001
Property group goes private
MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS

Chepstow PLC, the acquisition vehicle of a consortium comprising directors Richard Fildes, Fergus Watson and Andrew Bird, together with Barry Owen, made a recommended cash offer for Barlows at 72 pence in cash per share.

Immediately preceding the offer, Barlows entered into the Northern Portfolio Transaction, which involved the sale of a portfolio of 11 properties by the group for £28 million to a joint venture.

Following this sale, Barlows has retained an economic interest in the Partnership Portfolio via its 50 per cent. interest in the Partnership. The sale proceeds will be used by the group to discharge or cash collateralise existing indebtedness.

Rickitt Mitchell commented “The lack of institutional interest in small and mid-capitalisation companies is increasing the opportunities for public to private transactions, particularly in property-related sectors - this trend is likely to increase over the coming months”.
Commenting on the deal, Mike Pearse at NatWest explained “Richard Fildes and his management team has a proven track record. The appetite of the market for new share issues for a business of this size and in this sector was clearly limited. When the opportunity arose to provide debt funding for the acquisition of the public company, we were delighted to work closely with the management in developing their plans. The successful accomplishment of the transaction is something of which Richard and his team can be very proud. The bank is delighted to have played a key role.”

Addleshaw Booth & Co Corporate Finance Partner Richard Lee led the legal team including corporate, banking and property specialists advising Chepstow.

Lee commented “P2P’s have become a compelling measure for boards of many smaller quoted companies and Addleshaw Booth & Co is one of the UK’ s leading law firms acting in this specialist area. The take private of Barlows was one of the more recent the firm has acted on. The deal presented Barlows shareholders with an opportunity to realize their investment at a level which represented a 23 per cent premium to the pre-bid price. Going forward, Chepstow will be free from the financial, managerial and regulatory burdens to which Barlows was previously subject as a listed company and will be able to respond to the opportunities and demands of its markets as they arise in a manner which may not have been possible for Barlows as a small listed company.”

Rickitt Mitchell initiated and led the transaction.