Hemscott rebels win victory over Grade

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The Independent Online

The shares rose 4.8 per cent to 43.5p, giving the company, chaired by the BBC's chairman, Michael Grade, a market value of £25m.

Plans to take the company private by its majority shareholders, the US media investment groups Veronis Suhler Stevenson and FinMedia, are on hold while Hemscott pursues takeover talks with another suitor, believed to be another financial data company. If those talks fail, Hemscott would proceed with a tender offer through its broker, Seymour Pierce, to minority shareholders to buy their holdings and delist the shares.

Mr Grade said: "The business has been growing strongly since January and it is clear to us that the market is undervaluing the business. Any future tender offer would need to reflect the business's growing value."

The group released first-quarter figures which showed a 17 per cent rise in revenues to £6m.

When Hemscott announced plans for a tender offer at 40p in January, Hugh Sergeant, head of UK equities at Société Générale, accused the group of letting down small shareholders. He argued that while the shares had been weak, they had the potential to rise to between 60p and 70p. Since then, SocGen has raised its stake from 5 per cent to a little less than 7.5 per cent.

Veronis and FinMedia hold 73 per cent of the company and would end up as owners of the company if it goes private. Under a convertible loan agreement, their combined holdings will rise to more than 84 per cent.