Caring raises offer for Wentworth to £110m

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The Independent Online

The competition to buy Wentworth Golf Club intensified yesterday after the entrepreneur Richard Caring upped his offer by £10m to £110m.

The competition to buy Wentworth Golf Club intensified yesterday after the entrepreneur Richard Caring upped his offer by £10m to £110m.

The new bid for the privately owned club has been given exclusivity by the majority shareholder Chelsfield, the property group, meaning that any other party would have to offer 10 per cent more to trump Mr Caring.

At least three other parties have shown interest in buying the world-renowned club - the Savoy hotels group and the businessmen Surinder Arora and Sean Quinn.

Chelsfield, which was taken private earlier this year, owns 60 per cent of Wentworth. It controversially agreed to sell the club to Mr Caring, a clothing supplier, earlier this month for £100m but Wentworth's minority shareholders protested that higher offers were available. Mr Quinn had offered £102m soon after the agreement with Mr Caring was signed at £100m.

Minority shareholders in Wentworth enjoy pre-emption rights, allowing them to match any offer for the club. This includes Mr Arora, who came forward with an offer matching Mr Caring's £100m.

The issue also led to a falling out among the shareholders of Chelsfield, who accused Elliott Bernerd, the property magnate who built up the company but who owns just 14 per cent of its shares, of selling Wentworth to "a mate [Mr Caring)] on the cheap".

It is understood that Mr Caring's increased offer has meant that Chelsfield shareholders have "patched up their differences".

It remains to be seen whether Wentworth's minority shareholders are willing to accept the latest bid from Mr Caring, who, as well as being close to Mr Bernerd, is a friend and business partner of Philip Green, the retail billionaire.

After Mr Caring's first offer was recommended by Chelsfield, some of the Wentworth minorities, led by the former newspaper mogul Eddy Shah, had threatened legal action.

Mr Bernerd has said that the auction of the club has dragged on too long and that it must now be resolved.

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