Friday, 4 August 2017

£14tn investor body wades into Worldpay merger with US rival

A powerful shareholder body whose members manage assets worth £14tn has waded into the multi-billion pound takeover of Worldpay, the FTSE-100 payments group.

Sky News has learnt that the Investor Forum, whose members include City institutions such as Legal & General Investment Management and Schroders, has held a series of talks with Worldpay over the terms of its £9bn sale to Vantiv of the US.

City sources said on Thursday that the Investor Forum had intervened in order to make clear its members' dissatisfaction with the modest takeover premium that Vantiv is proposing to pay.

The deal is being described as a merger, with several Worldpay executives expected to play key roles in the combined group after its completion.

However, City institutions are demanding that the new US-headquartered company commits to retaining some form of public listing in London that would allow them to continue holding the shares.

"Either this is a takeover, in which case Vantiv needs to pay an appropriate premium, or it's a merger, in which case UK fund managers want continued access to an attractive high-growth company," said one investor.

"That's why the Investor Forum needs to be involved."

The Forum's engagement in discussions is rare in a takeover situation, and underlines the strength of feeling among some City fund managers about the shape of the prospective deal.

The body was established following a review commissioned by Sir Vince Cable, the former Business Secretary and now leader of the Liberal Democrats.

Since it was set up three years ago, it has engaged with companies such as Standard Chartered and Sports Direct during periods of concern about corporate governance or broader business performance.

While it has no formal powers, the Forum's members are among the world's most influential investors.

SKY      News.