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Archer seals Rebel Sport deal despite “mad monkeys” row

Archer Capital is set to buy Australia-listed Rebel Sport for A$369 million, after a majority of shareholders followed the lead of the sports retailer’s largest shareholder Gerry Harvey and voted in favour of the take-private deal.

Archer Capital, one of Australia’s longest established private equity firms, has narrowly won the backing of shareholders for its proposed A$369 million ($283 million) take-private bid for Rebel Sport, a listed Australian sporting goods retailer.

Archer won approval from 76.69 percent of the shares that voted today for its A$4.60-a-share bid, according to a filing with the Australian stock exchange, giving it a narrow majority.

Gerry Harvey

More than half of the company’s shares, or 53 percent, were held by a single entity, Harvey Norman, whose chairman Gerry Harvey has been highly vocal in the run-up to today’s vote about why the rest of Rebel’s shareholders should support the deal.

Harvey was particularly scathing about the three institutional investors who have been trying to block the deal, reportedly describing them as “mad monkeys”.

The three investors – who control a combined 24.55 percent stake between them – have been quoted as saying Archer’s offer is too low. Two of the three – Paradice Investment Management and Perpetual Investments – have recently been buying more shares in Rebel, to build their voting rights to a combined 18.35 percent.

According to The Australian, a local daily, Harvey said: “The three musketeers would be mad monkeys if they voted against the offer, because Rebel’s share prices would drop to buggery.”

On 28 February, minority shareholders were blamed for blocking the take-private of Flight Centre, a listed travel agency, in a transaction that valued the company at A$1.62 billion. Pacific Equity Partners, which offered A$17.20 a share, was backed by the founders who could not vote their shares. Flight Centre’s shares, which were trading at A$16.89 before the vote, fell to a low of A$14.10 immediately afterwards. The company shares have since been hovering below A$15.00.