Moulton closes in on deal for Clarity Commerce

 

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The Independent Online

Jon moulton, the veteran private equity investor, is targeting a second till software company in two months after his bid for Clarity Commerce, whose clients include Legoland and retailer Dune, emerged yesterday.

Enigmatic Investment, a vehicle controlled by Mr Moulton's buyout company Better Capital, has offered 23p per share, which values the company at about £9.5m. The move by Mr Moulton, pictured, and his team surprised the board as the suitor had pledged to wait for the offer to be recommended, but it went ahead anyway taking the bid straight to shareholders.

Clarity's board could only advise shareholders to "take no action" as it reviewed the offer. It is expected to table a response in the next few days. Analysts at Megabuyte said: "The statement is clear that Moulton aims to put Clarity together with the recently acquired Digipos." They added that he "has a pretty strong track record of investment in the sector". Better Capital bought Digipos, an electronic point-of-sale software company, in July.

Clarity was set up in 1993 and provides point-of-sale technology for companies from hotels and restaurants, to theme parks, cinemas and resorts. It is chaired by Sir Colin Chandler, the former chairman of easyJet and chief executive and chairman of Vickers.

The company fell to a full-year loss in the year to March "and the balance sheet looked far from robust", Megabuyte said. The shares, which were around 130p in 2001, fell as low as 14p ahead of this week's bid from Enigmatic.

Better Capital's highest-profile purchase to date was its acquisition last year of the British subsidiary of Reader's Digest magazine. The buyout company invested a further £3m in the business in July.

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