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Consortium eyes Link Group

Two private equity firms are spearheading a takeover of Link Group to acquire 100% of the ASX-listed administrator.

The consortium led by Pacific Equity Partners and Carlyle Group is offering $5.20 per share via a scheme of arrangement.

Perpetual, which is the largest shareholder with a 9.65% stake, has sent a letter to the consortium stating it will vote in favour of the acquisition at an offer price no less than $5.20 should it proceed.

Yarra Funds Management, NovaPort Capital and AustralianSuper also hold large shareholdings.

Link's shares jumped as high as 28% when the announcement broke on October 12, closing at $4.99 at the end of the day.

Link is the parent of several subsidiaries like Link Fund Solutions and Link Market Services.

Link Fund Solutions (UK) is the fund administrator of Woodford Equity Income Fund, which has shut down and is in the process of returning investors' money.

The board said it will consider the proposal, including obtaining advice from Macquarie Capital and UBS, its financial advisers, and Herbert Smith Freehills its legal adviser.

"Shareholders do not need to take any action in relation to the proposal. It should be noted that there is no certainty that the discussions with the consortium will result in any transaction," it said.

The proposal is subject to a number of approvals, including receiving the go-ahead from the Foreign Investment Review Board, due diligence and securing debt financing.

Link chief executive John McMurtrie is due to retire early 2021. QBE executive Vivek Bhatia will take over the top job.

A recent AFR article alleges Bhatia fudged his resume, claiming to have worked as chief executive of Wesfarmers Insurance in Australia, a position that did not exist.

Bhatia joined QBE Insurance as chief executive in early 2018. His other experience includes working as the chief executive at icare NSW, holding senior and consulting roles at McKinsey & Company, PwC and KPMG.

Read more: Link GroupLink Fund SolutionsQBEUBSAustralianSuperCarlyle GroupForeign Investment Review BoardHerbert Smith FreehillsJohn McMurtrieLink Market ServicesMacquarie CapitalNovaPort CapitalPacific Equity PartnersVivek BhatiaWoodford Equity Income FundYarra Funds Management
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