Surprise £6.5m takeover bid for Airsprung

September 29, 2011

Trowbridge-based furniture group Airsprung has received a surprise £6.5m takeover bid from a property investment company.

The offer emerged earlier today after Airsprung was noticed that Portnard Ltd, a Jersey registered investment vehicle, had acquired shares giving it a 29.95% stake in the historic business.

Portnard’s principal shareholder Andrew Perloff, a well-known figure in the property investment market, is also the beneficiary of the Maland Pension Fund, which already owned 12.35 per cent of Airsprung’s issued share capital. Yesterday’s move took the combined shareholding under Mr Perloff's control to 42.3% which, under City rules, automatically triggered a takeover offer.

Following consultation with the Takeover Panel, Portnand tabled a cash offer to Airsprung shareholders at 27p per share, valuing the company at about £6.45m- a 35% premium on the shares’ closing price of £4.78m today.

Airsprung last night confirmed it had received the offer but told shareholders to take no action at this stage.

Airsprung has been manufacturing beds in Wiltshire for more than 130 years. It has diversified and developed into a furniture group with brands from Airsprung, Hush and Gainsborough beds to Collins & Hayes and Cavendish upholstered furniture.

In recent years it has been hit by competition from budget imported furniture and cutbacks in consumer spending. Sales for the year ended March 31 were £44.9m, down 4% on the previous year. Underlying pre-tax profits fell 10% to £900,000.

Mr Perloff, 66, has worked in property for more than 45 years and is one of the industry’s most-colourful characters. He sees himself as a serial investor in underperforming, adding value for shareholders, and has undertaken a number of takeovers of poorly-performing businesses.

He is a chairman and chief executive of stock market-listed property investment group Panther Securities. The Hertfordshire-based firm has made regular donations to the Conservative Party – £25,000 last year – and Mr Perloff has used Panther’s annual reports to air his views on a range of topics, not just the property sector.

Ironically, his latest comments – or ‘chairman’s ramblings’ as he styles them – included a nostalgic account of his time working in his uncle’s furniture business.


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