Some GAM Holding AG shareholders lashed out against the takeover offer by Liontrust Asset Management, and drew parallels with investors who lost out in the takeover of Credit Suisse Group AG.
(Bloomberg) — Some GAM Holding AG shareholders lashed out against the takeover offer by Liontrust Asset Management, and drew parallels with investors who lost out in the takeover of Credit Suisse Group AG.
“A few weeks ago Credit Suisse woke up to the news that their shareholder rights had been revoked,” said Stephan Sola, an investor in the Swiss asset manager. “Today at GAM we are in a similar position. GAM has come to a point were a new owner is indeed needed — but the new offer is a joke,” he said at GAM’s annual general meeting in Zurich Thursday.
Earlier this month London-based Liontrust offered the equivalent of 107 million Swiss francs in an all-share deal for the troubled firm, which has seen a long decline in assets under management, revenues and profitability since a scandal five years ago. While GAM has said about 20% of shareholders support the offer so far, opposition from backers including French billionaire Xavier Niel has made approval more uncertain.
One investor, addressing the AGM, called the offer a “catastrophe” and worse than the Credit Suisse fallout.
Shareholders in Credit Suisse saw their investments slashed further in March as part of the government-brokered takeover by UBS Group AG, in a $3 billion deal that was a fraction of the firm’s asset value. The rescue of Credit Suisse after its near-collapse invoked emergency laws that overrode the right of shareholders to vote on the deal and sent shockwaves through the Swiss financial world.
The combined GAM-Liontrust company would create a £53 billion ($66.7 billion) global asset manager and draw a line under a tumultuous period for GAM that began in 2018 and involved the shuttering of nine funds and the dismissal of star bond trader Tim Haywood.
An offer prospectus for the Liontrust deal is set to be published around June 9 and the deal would close in the fourth quarter. Both GAM and Liontrust shareholders have yet to vote on the offer.
Other backers told management it wasn’t acting in their best interests, and said they felt they were never consulted on the deal. The Niel investor group already controls more than 8% of GAM’s issued share capital and is considering rejecting the Liontrust offer, arguing it doesn’t value the company’s “significant intrinsic value” and doesn’t include a cash component.
GAM Chairman David Jacob acknowledged shareholders’ frustration but said he “strongly” disagrees with the criticism that it isn’t acting in the interest of shareholders.
“We did our due diligence and had a long process talking to partners and this was the best outcome possible,” he said. “Because it is a shares offer, our shareholders do benefit from the future success of the company.”
“I can assure you none of our shareholders’ rights have been revoked or harmed in any way,” he said.
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