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Hutson fails to respond to Abano buyout offer, takeover 'rife with insider elements'

Thursday 17th October 2013

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Abano Healthcare says shareholder Peter Hutson has failed to respond to its offer to buy his half stake in their audiology venture and his alternative proposal to take over the specialist medical investors is "rife with insider elements."

Abano had offered a 'buy/sell' mechanism to Hutson and his associated interests under which they would nominate the price for a 50 percent shareholding in Bay International Limited, and Abano would choose whether to buy the Hutson interest or sell its own half share at that nominated price.

It made the proposal after rejecting Hutson's informal offer to buy the rest of Abano at $6.97 a share. The shares last traded at $6.76 a share.

Hutson, Archer Capital and shareholder James Reeves have a combined 19.99 percent of Abano and under their proposal a privatised Abano would have sold the balance of Bay International to Hutson for a nominal sum.

"Abano is disappointed and concerned that the buy/sell proposal has not been responded to by Peter Hutson or his interests," chairman Trevor Janes said in a statement. "This lack of any response further reinforces the conflicts of interest inherent in the Archer/Reeves/Hutson consortium proposal."

Hutson resigned as a director of Abano last month, on the urging of other board members, because of a perceived conflict of interest. The company has refused to allow due diligence, saying Archer may end up as a direct competitor.

Other Abano shareholders have said the Hutson proposal undervalues the company, including Fisher Funds management, with an 8.8 percent holding.

Janes said the Hutson group "continues to communicate selectively with Abano's major shareholders - and are receiving a consistent message of no support for their proposal."

"Abano will not provide the requested due diligence access in response to a patently unsatisfactory proposal, rife with insider elements," he said.

BusinessDesk.co.nz

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