Tuesday 29 June 2021 8:37 am

London-listed UDG Healthcare agrees £2.8bn takeover deal

London-listed private healthcare business UDG has agreed a takeover deal after its US buyer hiked its offer to £2.8bn.

Private equity group Clayton, Dubilier & Rice had tabled a £2.6bn offer in May, but some shareholders branded the bid “opportunistic”.

Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, which is bidding through affiliate Nenelite, today unveiled an increased and final offer of 1,080p per share.

It said it had received letters of support from Allianz and Kabouter, who together hold a stake of roughly 11 per cent, adding that other institutional investors had indicated their intention to vote for the deal.

In a statement UDG said it was “well positioned for future continued success and that the long-term prospects of the group are strong as an independent listed entity.

“Nevertheless, the UDG directors recognise that uncertainties exist, many of which are beyond UDG’s control.”

The company added that the increased bid “reflects the strength of the UDG business today and its future prospects, and provides an opportunity for UDG shareholders to realise their investment in UDG in cash in the near term”.

The board unanimously recommended that investors vote through the deal at a meeting next month. Shares ticked up 0.5 per cent following the announcement.

Dublin-based UDG operates two divisions and employs around 9,000 staff across 29 countries.

Its largest division, Ashfield, is a global healthcare services business working in advisory, marketing and communications, while Sharp is a contract packaging, clinical, manufacturing and technology services business.

The group was built by Liam Fitzgerald, who served as chief executive for 16 years until 2016. He is now an adviser to Clayton, Dubilier & Rice in Europe and is chairman of healthcare company Huntsworth after the private equity firm bought it for £575m last year.

The new owners plan to merge Huntsworth with Ashfield.

It comes a week after Clayton, Dubilier & Rice tabled a £5.5bn bid for Morrisons, though the supermarket chain rejected the offer, saying it significantly undervalued the business.