Equity Trustees seeks to scupper Perpetual's scheme

Perpetual's rival bidder for The Trust Company is trying to persuade shareholders not to give a required 75 per cent acceptance at a meeting in two weeks.

Equity Trustees’ surprise sweetened bid for financial services firm The Trust Company is part of a push to disrupt rival suitor Perpetual’s scheme meeting, set down for the end of the month, according to industry sources.

Perpetual’s $294 million cash-and-scrip bid for Trust Co goes to a scheme vote at a November 28 meeting, and is conditional on 75 per cent acceptances of investors present. Equity Trustees is understood to be meeting with the top 20 or so shareholders on Trust Co’s registry over the next 10 days in an attempt to convince them to scupper Perpetual’s scheme, which is backed by Trust Co’s board.

Equity yesterday increased its bid from 37 cents to 39 cents for 100 Trust Co shares, valuing the target at about $267 million, and loosened its terms to unconditional. It was the second time it sweetened its offer since sparking a bidding war for Trust Co in February.

Top Trust Co shareholders sure to receive a visit from Equity Trustees include, according to Reuters data as at last December; listed investment groups Milton Corporation (10.57 per cent), Australian Foundation Investment Co (9.34 per cent), Australian United Investment Company (3.58 per cent) and Carlton Investments (3.24 per cent).  

Rounding out the Top 8 are, former Trust Co director Jonathan W Sweeney (3.18 per cent), Trust Company Funds Management (2.98 per cent), Trust Co vice-chairman John Macarthur-Stanham (2.45 per cent), Washington H Soul Patts (1.37 per cent). 

A series of mostly private investors completes the top 20 of what is a fairly tightly-held register.

Perpetual is understood to be confident its bid will succeed. Trust Co is yet to issue a formal response to Equity Trustee’s latest offer.  

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