Hunter Hall investment style to be maintained: WHSP

Investment company Washington H. Soul Pattinson intends to maintain ethical fund manager Hunter Hall International's investment style even if its takeover bid fails.

In its bidder's statement released on Wednesday, WHSP said upon acquiring more than 50% but less than 90% of all HHL shares, they would "assist HHL in maintaining investment style, philosophy, culture and practices."

It was these practices, they suggest, which led to the continued success of Hunter Hall.

WHSP managing director Todd Barlow has previously dismissed concerns that his company's majority interest in ASX-listed coal business New Hope Group is at odds with Hunter Hall's commitment to ethical and environmentally driven practices over the past 24 years.

In their ethical investment policy, Hunter Hall (HHL) pledges to avoid investment in companies that derive operating revenues from direct and material business involvement in "fossil fuel exploration, production, refining, storage and transportation."

WHSP also intends to assist with business growth, maintain HHL's listing on the ASX, and appoint nominees to the HHL board.

In December 2016, HHL founder and chief executive Peter Hall announced his resignation and a deal to sell his 19.9% stake to WHSP for $1 a share.

Commenting on the WHSP takeover bid, Hall said: "I have known WHSP for many years, having first met patriarch Jim Millner in his office above the chemist shop on Pitt Street in 1985. WHSP is a very fine Australian institution with diversified interests."

WHSP is offering to acquire the remainder of HHL's ordinary shares at $1 per share.

Responding to the takeover bid, HHL established an independent board committee (IBC) and appointed Leadenhall Corporate Advisory to prepare an independent expert report to assess the value of HHL.

In a letter to shareholders, the IBC acknowledged that the WHSP takeover offer is "materially below" the trading price for HHL shares, and has stated that based on current circumstances, they intend to advise against accepting the offer.

Company chief financial officer Paula Ferrao and deputy chief investment officer James McDonald have been appointed as temporary chief executive officer and chief investment officer respectively to assist with the transition process.

Read more: HHLASXHunter Hall InternationalIBCWashington H. Soul PattinsonWHSP forJames McDonaldJim MillnerLeadenhall Corporate AdvisoryNew Hope GroupPeter HallPitt StreetTodd BarlowWednesday
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