Page in reverse takeover of brewer

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The Independent Online
ADAM PAGE, former chairman of Midsummer Leisure, staged a stock- market comeback yesterday via a reverse takeover of Hoskins Brewery.

In a deal reminiscent of his reverse into Midsummer in the mid-1980s, Mr Page is injecting a small chain of cabaret and disco venues into the brewer, whose shares are traded on the Unlisted Securities Market.

Barry and Robert Hoar, the two brothers who run Hoskins, are to leave the board after surviving an attempt by a group of discontented shareholders to unseat them last year.

In an ironic twist, Denis Bailey, a stockbroker with Hichens Harrison, which is advising Mr Page, is a former director of Hoskins who supported the rebels in their bid for control of the brewer.

Hoskins is to acquire the assets of Mr Page's companies, Swithland Estates and Swithland Corporation, for a total of pounds 4.3m. The deal will be settled by pounds 2.1m in cash and the issue to Mr Page of four million new shares in Hoskins, representing 41 per cent of the enlarged capital.

The cash will come from Hoskins' own resources and from new bank facilities. Mr Page will then make a cash offer for the rest of Hoskins at 55p a share. The shares were suspended at 56p yesterday.

Mr Page did a similar deal in 1984, when he reversed Camra (Real Ale) Investments into Midsummer Leisure, which was subsequently bought by European Leisure in a controversial takeover in 1990.

The assets being injected into Hoskins include three cabaret bars at Wolverhampton, Stafford and Newcastle-under-Lyme trading under the name 'Fatty Arbuckles'.

Mr Page said: 'The deal is very reminiscent of my acquisition of Midsummer Leisure, at the time a small USM company which subsequently proved to be a sound base from which to develop a substantial leisure business.'

He said he intended to extend the Fatty Arbuckles franchise and proposed to develop a large Hoskins pub in Coventry into a new cabaret venue.

Hoskins, which made pounds 50,000 before tax in the six months to 30 September, has been hit by falling beer sales, especially since it sold nine pubs to Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries last year for pounds 2.45m. It now operates just its brewery and seven pubs.

The offer price of 55p a share values the enlarged Hoskins at pounds 5.7m.