IOOF's win win strategy

No matter how the rationalisation of the trust industry proceeds, Chris Kelaher appears to have dealt IOOF a winning hand.

IOOF's (IFL) Chris Kelaher has found himself in the box seat when it comes to rationalisation of the trust industry.

Although technically beaten to the punch for control of The Trust Co (TRU), it would be a mistake to think that IOOF has capitulated to Perpetual (PPT) on that prize.

The Trust Co has been the subject of a three way tussle for control after its smaller rival Equity Trustees kicked off proceedings several months ago, followed by Perpetual and in recent weeks IOOF which then was trumped by Perpetual's final $250 million offer.

Last week, IOOF secured a deal with Perpetual that, in the event Perpetual's scheme of arrangement proceeds, IOOF will buy The Trust Co's 13.5% stake in Equity Trustees for just shy of $20 million.

That tie up dates back several years to a time when both companies envisaged a merger. But the smaller group's aggressive lunge at The Trust Co earlier this year apparently has created a toxic relationship between the pair.

IOOF's consolation prize would deliver it the perfect platform to lob a bid at Equity Trustees (EQT). But Kelaher told Eureka Live that he has not abandoned his ambitions for The Trust Co.

Whether it attempts to outbid Perpetual for a second time, however, is debatable. The more likely scenario is that it will revive its offer if Perpetual's scheme of arrangement does not get across the line.

And ironically, opposition to the scheme is likely to emanate from Equity Trustees which continues to argue that its bid is superior, despite the unanimous recommendation from The Trust Co directors for the Perpetual offer.

It seems Kelaher will need to simply sit tight and watch the fireworks.

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