Hemscott rebels claim victory after Grade backs £53m deal

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The BBC chairman Michael Grade recommended a £53m offer yesterday for Hemscott, the financial information group he also chairs, from its majority shareholder to take it private. The company will then merge with a US rival, i-Deal, to create a transatlantic data business.

The move represents a victory for minority shareholders who criticised a proposed deal to take Hemscott private at 40p a share in January. The biggest, Société Générale, which at that time attacked Mr Grade and the chief executive, Ros Wilton, claiming small shareholders were being ripped off, sold its entire 6.5 per cent holding in Hemscott yesterday. When the criticism became public at the start of the year, the company put its plans on hold and started takeover negotiations with i-Deal.

Hemscott announced yesterday that Veronis Suhler Stevenson, the US media investment group that owns 73 per cent of the company through its investment vehicle Centerpoint Data, would buy the rest of the company at 53p a share. Hemscott shares are expected to delist from AIM on 27 September.

Ms Wilton is set to become chairman of HID Holdings, the combined Hemscott/i-Deal group. She is cashing in her 112,000 shares but will carry over 1.7 million share options into the new group. Mr Grade is stepping down after chairing Hemscott for the past six years and selling his 35,000 shares.

Under Ms Wilton, Hemscott has grown from a book publishing spin-off with hardly any revenues to a £12m revenue group. It reported half-year pre-tax losses of £2.3m yesterday.