Mike Ashley continues behind the scenes activities to acquire Newcastle United PLC â€“ and while there have been stories that he already has acquired as much as 54% of the shares – we donâ€™t think thatâ€™s true because by law this (50% and 75% acquisitions) has to be announced formally.
The Ashley offer to all remaining stockholders will be sent out before the end of the week.
We know that Sit John Hall sold 41.6% of Newcastle to Ashley and we also know that Freddy Shepherd owns 29.8% of the club so that leaves 28.6% owned by other shareholders â€“ and the vast majority of these are individual shareholders. We would expect most of the small shareholders to accept the bid â€“ if the enthusiasm that offer has received from Newcastle fans is anything to go by.
So we expect starting next week to see just what percentage Ashley can acquire without Shepherd.
His offer of 100p per share â€“ made on May 23rd – is dependent on Ashley acquiring at least 50 % of the shares but the Newcastle Board also has yet to come out with a recommendation to stock-holders.
St. James Park Holdings Limited â€“ the company that was formed to front Ashleyâ€™s bid, has 28 days to inform shareholders of the details, and then 60 days during which to consider their response. These are the Stock Exchange rules.
We did report this week on a potential counter-bid from Freddy Shepherd and Scot Sir John Hunter â€“ and even a Far East consortium we understand may be interested.
We hope either these bids are not made – or they are made quickly – so we can get end the uncertainty surrounding the club’s future. Of course the major villain in any delay could be our Chairman Freddy Shepherd â€“ because if he announces he will sell to Ashley â€“ or the Board recommends Ashley’s offer to share-holders – itâ€™s all over and the uncertainty will be ended.
Thatâ€™s the outcome we would like to see â€“ that Freddy Shepherd â€“ for once in his life â€“ does something thatâ€™s of benefit to somebody else â€“ in this case the thousands of Newcastle fans who have been paying his wages for 10 years.
Comments always welcome.