Omega investors angered by Byrne’s plans to lapse offer

David Hellier
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INVESTORS in Omega Insurance including Aviva, Toscafund, Crystal Amber and founder shareholder John Robinson, are up in arms over plans by tycoon Mark Byrne to allow his tender offer for 25 per cent of shares in the group to lapse even though it received more than the minimal number of acceptances.

Robinson, speaking to City A.M. last night, said: “The chairman, the advisers and Invesco, who all supported this approach, should now explain to shareholders what on earth is going on. The whole thing appears to be a complete shambles.”

Byrne’s company HBL said yesterday that it had requested further information from Omega that might allow it to explain why there had been a “significant and unexpected deterioration” in the company’s financial position and prospects.

It believes there are technical reasons – specifically unfulfilled clearances – that allow it to lapse its current offer.

It has also indicated that it will come back with a new offer at a fixed price of 74p, but this has infuriated investors who tendered to sell shares at 83p each. Byrne’s tender offer was preferred by both the Omega board and 30 per cent shareholder Invesco to an 83p a share counter-offer from a rival.