AFFINITY'S SHORT-LIVED ASX RIDE COMES TO AN END

Written on the 1 December 2015 by Nick Nichols

AFFINITY'S SHORT-LIVED ASX RIDE COMES TO AN END

AFFINITY Education (ASX:AFJ) will end its short-lived era as a listed company when it delists from the Australian Securities Exchange at the close of trading today.

The delisting is the final stage of the $213 million buyout of the Gold Coast-based childcare centre provider by Sydney's private equity group Anchorage Capital Partners.

The move ends the takeover saga that has dogged Affinity for the better part of this year, starting in April when it was approached privately by listed childcare giant G8 Education (ASX:GEM).

Since then, the deal has been subject to a Takeovers Panel probe and has cost G8's former chair and co-founder Jenny Hutson her job after the seasoned corporate raider over-played her hand in the takeover tussle.

The Takeovers Panel found that Hutson had connections with three separate parties, Taxonomy, JB Super Fund and WestBridge Holdings, that acquired a significant stake in Affinity.

It later ordered that the Affinity holding accepted by G8 from Taxonomy be sold and that it withdraw acceptances from JB Super Fund and WestBridge Holdings.

The failed bid cost G8 the opportunity to bolt on 161 childcare centres to its growing portfolio, forcing Hutson to fall on her sword.

Anchorage Childcare Pty Ltd will acquire all the listed capital of Affinity after the close of trading today through a scheme of arrangement approved by shareholders and ratified by the Federal Court this week.

The company is being acquired for 92c a share, which compares with the 80c a share offered by G8 in August.

Affinity has had a tough two years as a listed company after failing to deliver on its prospectus forecasts.

The company was primed for a takeover in July when its shares suffered a 40 per cent fall in a single day's trading.

That's when G8 made an opportunistic move with a scrip bid, but the Affinity board rejected the offer and sought out higher bids from other parties.

From the outset, the Affinity board has backed the offer that eventually emerged from Anchorage, arguing it is the best outcome for shareholders.

Affinity shares were originally issued for $1 each and have traded as high as $1.46.


Author: Nick Nichols

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