Hambro bids for controlling interest in Quarto

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Quarto, the publishing group behind a number of titles including The Bedside Karma Sutra, was yesterday under siege from it major shareholder, which is attempting to take control of the business.

JO Hambro Capital Management, which owns 26 per cent of the publisher, yesterday launched a tender offer to buy up another 25 per cent of Quarto to take its holding to 51 per cent. It has lost faith with the company's management, which owns more than 20 per cent of Quarto, and its ability to run the business for shareholder value. If shareholders accept its 132.5p a share offer, a 5.5 per cent premium to its closing price on Wednesday, JO Hambro Capital may decide to take the company private or seek a bidder.

Quarto's board yesterday urged shareholders to take no immediate action. The offer does not trigger a takeover bid because Quarto is registered in the US, meaning it operates outside the Takeover Panel rules.

Quarto, which is run by its founder Laurence Orbach, lost the support of its major shareholders earlier this year. The management had tried to pass a resolution at its annual general meeting that would have given it the option to buy up shares at no premium for unspecified usage. "The management would have had a controlling block on the shares, using the company's money," said James Morton of European American Securities, who is concerned over corporate governance standards at Quarto. "It has led to ill-feeling and shareholders felt the management was being deceptive."

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