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Iomart co-founder supports takeover

IOMART'S co-founder Bill Dobbie has said he is supportive of a proposed £320 million takeover of the business that could net him a £5.7 million windfall.

Mr Dobbie, who owns 2.35 per cent of the Glasgow cloud computing and internet hosting firm through his 1.91 million shares, confirmed he would be happy with the 300-pence-per-share price that has been mooted by Host Europe Holdings.

He said: "I will be supportive of that proposal."

Asked whether he would vote in favour of accepting a formal bid at the same price he said: "Yes."

Mr Dobbie, who stepped down as chief executive of online dating business Cupid at the end of November last year but remains on its board as a non-executive director, started Iomart with his brother-in-law Angus MacSween in 1998.

The pair then saw it through to flotation on the Alternative Investment Market in April 2000.

Upon entering the market Mr Dobbie's stake was close to 12 million shares, around a quarter of the business, with Mr MacSween holding almost 18 million, or 37.9 per cent.

However, Mr Dobbie was always keen to strike out on his own and resigned as a director in 2005 to pursue his own business interests.

Mr MacSween, who is still Iomart's chief executive, is said to be supportive of the Host Europe proposal along with the company's finance director Richard Logan and its operations director Sarah Haran.

That trio have been given the blessing of Iomart's independent directors to work with Host Europe, which is controlled by private equity firm Cinven, to progress the transaction.

Mr MacSween is the largest shareholder in Iomart with his 16.8 million shares, equivalent to 15.73 per cent of the business. Ms Haran, who has been with Iomart since 1998 and was appointed to its board in 2000, holds 1.96 million shares or around 1.84 per cent of the company.

According to stock market data Mr Logan, a chartered accountant who joined the company in 2006, has 980,000 shares, giving him a stake of less than one per cent.

Cinven confirmed its approach, which comes after offers of 275p and 285p were knocked back, on Tuesday but said there was still no assurance a formal offer will be made.

The Takeover Panel has already extended the deadline for a deal to be done until September 16.

However, it now appears likely another Scottish listed company is about to disappear.

According to data from Reuters, Liontrust Asset Management is Iomart's second largest shareholder with its 13.44 million holding giving it almost 12.65 per cent of the business.

Majedie Asset Management holds 6.36 million shares and Old Mutual Global Investors (UK), with 5.4 million, are other shareholders with a stake of more than five per cent.

A number of institutional investors refused to comment yesterday on their position in regard to the proposed deal.

Others on the shareholder list include Noble Grossart Investments, which has 3.41 million shares, and well-known business figure Nick Kuennsberg who has a holding of 420,000, having been chairman of Iomart when it floated.

Current Iomart chairman Ian Ritchie has 150,000 shares.

The shares were as low as 3.75p in October 2002 and have only ever traded above 300p in September of last year, when a peak of 322p was reached.

Iomart's shares closed up 2.25p, or 0.8 per cent, at 282p.

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