Monsoon wins battle to switch to AIM

Susie Mesure
Saturday 04 October 2003 00:00

Independent shareholders in Monsoon yesterday vowed to retain their investment in the retailer rather than sell up at 140p per share, even though that meant accepting the company's decision to move from the main market to AIM.

Monsoon last night confirmed it would move to AIM after the high street retailer's founding family succeeded in lifting its holding above 75 per cent via a complicated tender offer. Stoneycroft, the investment vehicle owned indirectly by the family of Monsoon chairman, Peter Simon, said the Simon family's combined shareholding had increased to 75.4 per cent, taking its stake above the 75 per cent threshold for a listing on the main market.

Independent shareholders have tried and failed to get the City regulator, the Financial Services Authority, to intervene to prevent the company transferring to the AIM market.

Monsoon said in a statement that it would seek admission to AIM "as soon as reasonably possible". It had no choice but to switch its listing, it added, because under UK listing rules unless a company can show it intends to increase the number of shares in public hands to above 25 per cent it must de-list from the official list.

A spokesman for a quorum of the remaining independent investors said: "They decided they would rather remain shareholders than be taken out at 140p per share, which is simply unacceptable."

By declining to exercise the put option, the minority shareholders have stymied the Simon family's ultimate goal of lifting its stake to 92.5 per cent without paying a significant takeover premium.

The size of the Simon family's ultimate shareholding, held via a number of Guernsey-based trusts, will not be clear until next Wednesday when the deal final closes. A spokesman for Stoneycroft said the Simon family had achieved its "main target" of getting the company moved to the secondary market. "Now we can push for changes to the company which we think are needed," he said. These include using the money saved to increase Monsoon's investment overseas.

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