Ashworth says Chisbridge offer for InterQuest ‘good value’ for shareholders

The board of Chisbridge has officially launched its bid to take technology recruiter InterQuest into private ownership.

Yesterday Recruiter reported on how the board of Chisbridge, a newly set-up company created by InterQuest chairman Gary Ashworth, CEO Chris Elridge and chief financial officer David Bygrave, had released a statement revealing they had made an offer for InterQuest valuing the group at 42p per share.

That offer was swiftly followed up by a statement from independent directors Paul Frew and David Higgins in which they revealed they had been advised by investment bankers Panmure Gordon that Chisbridge’s “unsolicited” approach to the company materially undervalued InterQuest and its future prospects.

But this morning Chisbridge released a further statement formalising their bid, which also offers a loan note alternative to the 42p per share offer where shareholders could have loan notes to the same value in bidding company Chisbridge. The statement also revealed 42.2% of shareholders have already voted in favour – with more than 50% required for the management buy-out to be given the go ahead.

Commenting on today’s development, InterQuest chair Ashworth told Recruiter this week’s earlier announcement was a “leak” announcement, while today’s statement is a formal indication Chisbridge is going to make a fully funded offer. 

Ashworth added he thinks the offer represents “good value” for shareholders, while private ownership would help incentivise management to push the business forward.

“We think it’s a good deal for the shareholders. We don’t think we’re suited and we do well on the stock market because it’s difficult to incentivise management to compete with the sorts of salaries and benefits that key executives are getting in the private sector.

“There is a lot of cost for very small companies on AIM but may be unnecessary that a private company wouldn’t have to pay.

“Also with Brexit there’s a lot of uncertainty for all recruitment companies and for stock market ratings, and I think that is going to take a few years to sort itself out.”

As Recruiter reached press deadline this morning, independent directors Paul Frew and David Higgins, upon being advised by Panmure Gordon, confirmed in a statement they have unanimously concluded that they are unable to recommend Chisbridge’s offer, adding they strongly recommend InterQuest shareholders take no action in respect of the offer at this stage.

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