Littlewoods boss slams 'flimsy' bid

Letter lambasts Barry Dale, reports Chris Blackhurst

LITTLEWOODS, the football pools and retailing group, has written to members of the Moores family, its shareholders, attacking Barry Dale's pounds 1.2bn bid proposal as "extremely flimsy" and questioning his motives.

Leonard Van Geest, the chairman, pours scorn on the sacked chief executive's approach in a letter dated 27 October, a copy of which has been leaked to the Independent on Sunday.

Mr Dale is known to have received positive indications from some senior family members since making his approach more than two months ago.

Mr Van Geest reminds the 34 Moores, who between them own all Littlewoods' shares, that Mr Dale was dismissed from the company without compensation seven months ago.

"Mr Dale is no doubt aware that the board is currently reviewing with shareholders the options available to them as regards their investment in the company," writes Mr Van Geest. "You may, therefore, wish to consider generally the motivation for [Mr Dale's] approach and, in particular, the extent to which [it] is an opportunistic attempt to take advantage of the fact that this ongoing review is not yet complete."

Mr Dale is being advised by Dawnay Day, the corporate finance specialists, and has put together a consortium of heavyweight institutional backers including Prudential, Legal & General, Electra and Candover. He has declined to make a firm offer before examining the company's books in detail. Because it is a private company, Littlewoods is not bound to make the detailed declarations of a publicly quoted company.

A decision whether to allow Mr Dale to inspect the accounts will be taken at a shareholders' meeting in Liverpool next month. Nevertheless, he is criticised for not making a firm bid.

Mr Van Geest points out that:

l a letter from Dawnay Day "does not constitute a formal offer or even a firm commitment to make an offer";

l the Dawnay Day letter "indicates a possible 'valuation' for the company without indicating whether ... this would be the price at which an offer would be made";

l Mr Dale's letter says his management team will comprise himself and John Coleman, the former Texas Homecare chief, but does not name other members including the finance director;

l "there is no evidence from [the Dawnay Day] letter that it has sufficient or, indeed, any committed finance to back an offer";

l on the business plan, "there is no specific indication as to how it intends to achieve these objectives or of its detailed strategy for the group".

Writes Mr Van Gees: "After more than two months of work to formulate an offer, the board considers that [Mr Dale's] proposal remains extremely flimsy."

In advance of the extraordinary meeting, the Moores are urged to attend a two-day family "Forum" gathering set for the 28 and 29 of this month to discuss the Van Geest letter.

Mr Van Geest stresses there is no requirement to provide further information to Mr Dale. He says: "You should also be aware that pursuing this proposal would involve the company in significant expense and divert substantial management time and effort away from the task of running the business."

The chairman also claims that moving forward with Mr Dale's approach alone "would be unlikely to maximise value on a sale of the company". If the family showed support for Mr Dale, the board, writes Mr Van Geest, "would need to examine all possible alternatives for a sale of the company, whether as a whole or on a break up basis ... This would almost certainly lead to a major public sale process ... Clearly, this process, regardless of its outcome, would have a considerable impact on the morale of managment and employees."

A vote against Mr Dale, writes Mr Van Geest, would be taken as a sign the board should continue with its ongoing study to enable shareholders to free up their holdings. It would also rule out any other bids: "The board will also regard a vote against pursuing [Mr Dale's] proposal as an indication that shareholders do not wish it to proceed with any proposals of a similar nature."

Dawnay Day has written to shareholders, stressing the seriousness of Mr Dale's intentions.

Arts and Entertainment
Armstrong, left, and Bain's writing credits include Peep Show, Fresh Meat, and The Old Guys
TVThe pair have presented their view of 21st-century foibles in shows such as Peep Show and Fresh Meat
Arts and Entertainment
Keys to success: Andrew and Julian Lloyd Webber
arts + entsMrs Bach had too many kids to write the great man's music, says Julian Lloyd Webber
footballMan City manager would have loved to have signed Argentine
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site on Friday


Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
Enner Valencia
footballStriker has enjoyed a rapid rise to fame via winning the title with ‘The Blue Ballet’ in Ecuador
Arts and Entertainment
A top literary agent has compared online giant Amazon to Isis
arts + entsAndrew Wylie has pulled no punches in criticism of Amazon
Arts and Entertainment
Charlie Sheen said he would

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

The benefits of Recruitment at SThree...

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: SThree, International Recruitme...

Trainee Recruitment Consultants

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

Finance Assistant - Part time - 9 month FTC

£20000 - £23250 Per Annum pro rata: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pro rata ...

Marketing Manager

£40 - 48k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Manager to join...

Day In a Page

Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities