ClearView's biggest shareholder to resist takeover bid

THE biggest single shareholder in ClearView Wealth will resist a $220 million takeover of the mid-sized life insurer, labelling the private equity offer as "wholly inadequate".

THE biggest single shareholder in ClearView Wealth will resist a $220 million takeover of the mid-sized life insurer, labelling the private equity offer as "wholly inadequate".

Even so, the listed ClearView has been put in play after Crescent Capital Partners made the 50? a share all-cash offer for the financial services company.

But the investment house Guinness Peat Group, which has a 47.8 per cent stake in ClearView, is likely to hold out for a higher offer.

"The price offered represents a substantial discount to the fair value of ClearView Wealth and is wholly inadequate," GPG said.

Shares in ClearView jumped more than 15 per cent yesterday to 53.5?, following Crescent Capital's offer.

The move by Crescent suggests the next round of wealth-management consolidation is under way. This week, the Westpac-owned BT Financial signalled a "land grab" in the industry and predicted takeovers and greater investment as banks positioned themselves for a slice of the growing superannuation and wealth pie.

The ClearView chairman, Ray Kellerman, said the board was in the process of considering details of the conditional and unsolicited offer.

"Further information will be provided to the market and shareholders once the board has completed a careful assessment of the offer," Mr Kellerman said.

"At this stage we are advising shareholders to take no action in respect of their shares in ClearView."

ClearView has long been considered a prime takeover target.

"ClearView's exclusive distribution agreement with one of the country's biggest private health insurers, Bupa, and the planned entry into the third-party planner channel are key attractions to potential suitors," the brokerage Investorfirst Securities said in a report.

ClearView has about $1.5 billion in funds under management.

Crescent already has a 12 per cent stake in ClearView from put and call options. However, this means broader turnover in the stock is limited.

The Crescent Capital managing partner Michael Alscher said the offer provided an opportunity for ClearView shareholders to sell some or all of their shareholding at a premium in a company that had "low historical trading volumes and liquidity".