ASIC questions AOF Takeover Tactics
ASIC has stepped in to the takeover battle for AOF, urging the Takeovers Panel to investigate the way the Charter Hall and Abacus acquired and then sold units in AOF.
Charter Hall & Abacus "has intervened in the market for securities in AOF during the course of its proposed takeover of AOF in a way that undermines the integrity of the trust scheme mechanism," ASIC said in its submission to the Takeovers Panel.
ASIC noted that the consortium acquired its 19.9% interest at $2.95 per unit on June 4 and then lodged its takeover offer at $3.04 per unit under a scheme agreement in September. On October 31, the consortium then divested its stake at the equivalent of $2.95 per share.
ASIC claimed that if the takeover goes ahead not all the shareholders would "have had an equal opportunity to participate in the benefits offered under the scheme" given the "selective nature of the sale process" of the consortium's stake, in other words existing unit holders should have been able to buy up the consortiums' stake at the $2.95 sale price but were excluded from that process.
ASIC requested the vote be adjourned, however the Takeovers Panel has agreed to examine the matter (after the vote) and has obtained an undertaking from AOF not to take steps to effect the scheme if the resolutions are passed until 3 days after the Panel determines the application.