Catalano improves his offer for Keybridge shares

Catalano improves his offer for Keybridge shares

Prominent Australian businessman Antony Catalano (pictured) has increased his bid for 16 million Keybridge (ASX: KBC) shares allegedly "improperly" transferred to Wilson Asset Management Active (ASX: WAA), doubling the premium previously offered.

Catalano now hopes to buy shares back from shareholders who accepted into a takeover offer from investor advocate Geoff Wilson's WAM Active which Keybridge alleges was done in contravention of the Corporations Act.

The improved offer from Keybridge director and businessman Catalano could see him acquire the 16 million shares (representing around 12 per cent of the total shares in Keybridge) from 96 shareholders for 7.1 cents per share.

This is up from a previous offer of 7 cents per share, and doubles the premium from the 6.9 cents per share WAM Active was seeking to offer for these same shares.

In June Keybridge, helmed by notorious corporate raider Nicholas Bolton, launched proceedings in the Supreme Court of NSW to rectify the alleged improper transfer of Keybridge shares.

Since then, the impacted shareholders were granted a perpetual right by the Takeovers Panel to obtain back their shares from WAM Active, thus enabling them to sell their shares into the Catalano offer.

If Catalano acquires every share available to him he would increase his shareholding in the company from 10.25 per cent to 22 per cent.

"Keybridge provides no recommendation other than to observe that the offer is superior to the 6.9 cents offered by WAM Active," says Keybridge.

After Catalano first announced his buy-back offer in early June WAM Active labelled the bid as "opportune".

"Mr Catalano's unsolicited offer contains inadequate information regarding the value of KBC, which he is uniquely placed to provide," WAM said.

"WAM Active observes that, if Mr Catalano were to make a bid for the benefit of all KBC shareholders, an independent expert report would be required."

However, just last week, the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) greenlit WAM Active's latest attempt to take over Keybridge after a Takeovers Panel proceeding delayed the bid.

Thus, WAM Active's latest takeover bid to acquire all KBC shares for 6.9 cents per share (a 29 per cent premium) can now go ahead, albeit a few months behind schedule.

The upgraded bid from Catalano is the latest move in a long-running game of corporate chess, with Geoff Wilson's WAM Active, Farooq Khan-led Bentley Capital (ASX: BEL) and Aurora Funds Management all vying to take over Bolton's Keybridge.

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