Canadian pension fund Teachers' to buy UK's Goals Soccer

Fri Jul 20, 2012 10:50am EDT
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By Euan Rocha

TORONTO (Reuters) - Goals Soccer Centres Plc GOAL.L accepted a 73.1 million pound ($115 million) buyout offer from one of Canada's biggest pension funds on Friday, setting the stage for a possible bidding war over the British operator of recreational-football centers.

The Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan -- better known simply as Teachers' -- said Goals' board is unanimously recommending its all-cash offer to shareholders.

The agreement with Teachers' comes roughly three months after the pension fund put forward a preliminary bid for Goals, which runs five-a-side football centers in the United Kingdom.

Teachers' has agreed to pay 144 pence a share for Goals, a premium of 6.7 percent to Goals' closing price on Thursday. The bid is 34 percent above Goals' closing price of 107.5 pence on March 30, the last trading day before Teachers' preliminary offer was made public.

However, a rival bidder, private equity firm Patron Capital, has already indicated that it may come in with a counter bid. That possibility pushed Goals' shares above the Teachers' offer price to 148 pence on the London Stock Exchange on Friday.

Goals said earlier this month that Patron, which owns five-a-side football company Powerleague, had expressed an interest in a takeover.

Patron said on Friday it was still considering its options and urged Goals' shareholders not to take any action on the Teachers' offer.

Teachers', which is acquiring Goals through its private equity arm, Teachers' Private Capital (TPC), said the deal requires, among other things, the backing of investors holding at least 75 percent of the company's shares.   Continued...