What a difference three and a half weeks makes? Tracking HabourVest's hostile takeover attempt of SVG Capital

Oliver Gill
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Chief executive Lynn Fordham has battled hard to fend off the HarbourVest approach (Source: Getty)
t has been a strange three and a half weeks for chief executive Lynn Fordham and her board at SVG Capital (SVG).

Sources close to the company said that SVG's board was only informed of HarbourVest's hostile takeover bid late in the evening on 11 September and in the weeks that followed the US-giant quickly gathered sufficient shareholder backing for its takeover offer.

SVG – probably in knowledge of this – were pushed onto the back foot, knowing that they had a burning platform of just three and a half weeks to find what it believed was an appropriately valued counter-offer.

Events ramped up this week with offers and counter-offers flying in as well as players withdrawing their support at the eleventh hour.

To recap, here's how events have played out:




12 Sept Unsolicited offer from HarbourVest HarbourVest makes "unsolicited final offer" of 650p for entire share capital of SVG.
13 Sept HarbourVest share purchase Stock market announcement that HarbourVest has purchased an 8.5 per cent stake in SVG.
16 Sept SVG half-year results SVG releases half-year results that it said proved the under valuation of the HarbourVest deal.
16 Sept Support for HarbourVest

HarbourVest announces that it has received an irrevocable backing from shareholders worth 26.6 per cent and non-binding backing from a further 16.1 per cent of shareholders. Takes total support to over 50 per cent. Parties backing the deal include Coller Capital, Old Mutual, Legal & General and Aviva.

29 Sept SVG circular SVG publishes response circular urging shareholders to reject the HarbourVest deal and added that it was detailed discussions with a number of credible parties which may lead to an alternative offer to deliver "superior shareholder value".
3 Oct Discussions with multiple bidders SVG responds to press speculation that Goldman Sachs and CPPIB are preparing a counter offer and reveals it is also in negotiations with other parties who SVG.
4 Oct (evening) First counter-offer A counter-offer from Pomona Capital and Pantheon Ventures is announced that involves a £379m part-purchase of SVG's investments followed by a two-stage share sale that will ultimately lead to SVG being wound-up. The board of SVG supports the offer.
5 Oct (morning) Response to 1st counter-offer HarbourVest responds to counter-offer, saying it "begin[s] and end[s] with complexity and conditionality, offer little clarity as to value, are non-binding and carry significant market and execution risk".
5 Oct (afternoon) Second counter-offer A second counter-offer is received from Goldman Sachs and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board to purchase 100 per cent of SVG's assets and will be followed by a similar two-stage share sale – no valuation is attributed to the offer.
5 Oct (evening) Support for HarbourVest partially withdrawn HarbourVest reveals that Legal & General and Aviva have withdrawn their support for the deal.
6 Oct (morning) Second counter-offer update A value of 680p a share is attributed to the Goldman Sachs/CPPIB offer. The board now backs this offer ahead of the first counter-offer.
6 Oct (1pm) Deadline for voting on HarbourVest offer Deadline for the HarbourVest offer, after which it can be withdrawn.

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