July 20, 2012 / 6:14 AM / 6 years ago

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

* Deal comes about 3 months after Teachers’ initial offer

* Goals’ board to advise shareholders to back Teachers’ bid

By Euan Rocha

TORONTO, July 20 (Reuters) - Goals Soccer Centres Plc , which runs 5-a-side football centres across the United Kingdom, agreed to accept a 73.1 million pound ($115 million) buyout offer from one of Canada’s largest pension funds on Friday.

The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan — better known simply as Teachers’ — said on Friday that Goals’ board of directors has agreed to unanimously recommended its all cash offer to the company’s shareholders.

The agreement comes slightly more than three months after Goals said Teachers’ had approached it with a preliminary bid.

Earlier this month, Goals also confirmed that private equity firm Patron Capital had also expressed an interest in acquiring the company.

At the time, Goals said it remained in talks with Teachers’. The pension fund was given until July 23 to come in with a firm bid, after completing its due diligence process.

The pension fund, which is acquiring the company through its private equity arm Teachers’ Private Capital (TPC), said the deal requires, among other things, the backing of shareholders, holding at least 75 percent of the company’s shares.

Teachers’ did not provide a per-share offer price, but said the deal values the fully diluted share capital of Goals at about 73.1 million pounds. Goals’ stock closed at 135 pence a share in London on Thursday, putting its current market value at about 65.6 million pounds.

Goals owns and operates 43 outdoor five-a-side football centres in the United Kingdom and one in the United States. It has about 800 employees and it had revenues of about $47.8 million last year.

“We believe that this will be a win-win for investors, employees and the thousands of players who enjoy using Goals’ facilities,” said TPC’s European head Jo Taylor in a statement.

With roughly C$117 billion ($114 billion) in net assets, Teachers’ is the largest single-profession pension plan in Canada.

It invests and administers the pensions of about 300,000 active and retired teachers in Ontario, Canada’s most populous province.

TPC manages a global portfolio valued at about C$12 billion. Teachers’ private equity investments over the last two decades have achieved an average annualized return of close to 20 percent.

Teachers’ and Canadian peers like Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), and Caisse de depot et placement have been among the world’s most active dealmakers in recent years, making major bets both in Canada and overseas. The investments have focused largely around real estate, natural resources and infrastructure projects.  “We are excited at the growth plans for the future,” said Taylor. “Our aim is to cement Goals’ position as the UK’s premier five-a-side operator and help the business to achieve its full potential.”

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