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ClearView urges shareholders to reject A$220M offer from Crescent

Monday 20th August 2012

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ClearView Wealth, the financial services company that is 48 percent owned by Guinness Peat Group, has advised shareholders to reject a A$220 million offer from buyout firm Crescent Capital Partners that would install former GPG director Gary Weiss as chairman.

ClearView's directors said the offer "is inadequate and substantially undervalues the company." It urged shareholders to reject the 50 Australian cents-a-share offer after an independent appraisal from KPMG Corporate Finance value the company at between 68 cents and 74 cents a share.

The proposal was also highly opportunistic, highly conditional and uncertain, ClearView said. Director John Murphy stepped aside for the deliberations as he is a director and unit holder of entities associated with the bidding vehicle, CCP BidCo.

"ClearView is well advanced in its corporate development plans and after significant capital investment and management focus is now starting to reap the benefits of its strategy of increasing its share of the Australian life insurance and wealth management markets," the company said in the statement.

"The offer appears deliberately timed to take advantage of ClearView having laid the foundation for growth but only beginning to realise the full financial benefits," it said.

ClearView shares last traded at 60 Australian cents on the ASX, valuing the company at A$267 million. The shares have gained 28 percent in the past three months.

GPG already spurned the offer last month as "wholly inadequate".

Crescent has built up a 12 percent stake in ClearView from various put and call options with existing shareholders including Ariadne Australia, which counts former GPG director Weiss as an executive director. If Crescent was successful in securing a full takeover, Weiss would be put forward to chair ClearView.

Shares in Guinness Peat Group were unchanged at 51 cents on the NZX.

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