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Iomart rejects £300m bid approach by rival

CLOUD computing and web hosting specialist Iomart Group has rebuffed a takeover approach which valued the Scottish company at more than £300 million.

WINDFALL: Chief executive Angus MacSween would have made £48 million if the offer had been accepted.

If that was accepted it could have netted Iomart's chief executive and largest single shareholder Angus MacSween a windfall worth close to £48 million.

Mr MacSween owns 16.8 million shares, around 15.75 per cent of the business, with Liontrust Asset Management, Majedie Asset Management, Old Mutual Global Investors (UK) and Henderson Global Investors the other top five shareholders.

Former Cupid chief executive Bill Dobbie, who is Mr MacSween's brother-in-law and helped set up Iomart in 1998, is another who could be in line for a significant windfall with his 3.45 million shares valued at around £9.8 million.

Iomart yesterday said its independent directors had received approaches regarding possible cash offers of 275 pence per share and then 285p in June from London-based Host Europe Holdings, which is backed by private equity firm Cinven Partners.

Iomart, which employs 200 of its 320 staff in Glasgow, said: "The independent directors concluded that both offers undervalued Iomart and accordingly, both were rejected."

Shares in Iomart soared 7.45 per cent to finish the day 17.5p ahead at 252.5p.

The market is expecting further bids with analysts at SP Angel Research suggesting a 300p target in a note sent out yesterday.

They said: "With high margins, recurring revenue and strong organic growth, Iomart shares, in our opinion, on a 12-month view, warrant a premium."

In recent months analysts have put price targets on Iomart's shares ranging from 300p to 415p.

Cinven acquired Host Europe in a deal valued at £438 million in August last year and has since picked up Telefonica Germany Online Services and domainfactory.

At the time of the Host Europe transaction Cinven signalled it saw large consolidation potential in the European IT and hosting industry.

At its annual results announcement in May Iomart signalled it has acquisition ambitions having followed a buy and build strategy with the biggest deal so far the £23 million paid for cloud computing firm Backup Technology.

That strategy helped Iomart to post pre-tax profits of £9.7 million on revenue of £55.6 million in the 12 months to March 31 this year. Yesterday Host Europe, which has around 1.5 million customers across the UK and Germany, confirmed it had approached Iomart about a possible cash offer.

It now has until 5pm on August 21 to make a firm offer or walk away under Takeover Code rules.

However Host Europe said there was no assurance that it would make any offer and reserved the right to make a lower approach than 285p per share.

As well as having around 350,000 customers Iomart owns six data centres and a 1,860 kilometre fibre optic network.

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