Chairman crosses share threshold to take control of struggling Cosalt

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CARPHONE Warehouse co-founder David Ross has succeeded with his bid to buy and de-list offshore services group Cosalt.

Cosalt’s chairman yesterday declared his offer for the Grimsby-based group unconditional after crossing the 50 per cent threshold for acquiring shares.

Mr Ross plans to de-list and recapitalise the company, which serves the offshore oil and gas sectors, and was brought to its knees by a heavy debt burden and the recession.

Mr Ross’s acquisition vehicle Oval Ltd said it has received valid acceptances representing 217m shares, about 53.7 per cent of Cosalt’s share capital, for his 0.2p per share offer. “The recommended offer has therefore been declared unconditional in all respects,” it said. Mr Ross’s offer will remain open until 1pm on January 31.

He now controls the company and will convene a meeting to vote on the de-listing. Oval said cancelling Cosalt’s shares will “significantly reduce the liquidity and marketability” of any remaining Cosalt shares.

Last month, Cosalt wrote to shareholders to warn them the £800,000 offer from Mr Ross is the company’s only realistic chance of survival. After making an initial 0.1p per share offer valuing the entire company at £400,000 – one rebuffed by major shareholders – he recently doubled his offer to 0.2p per share.

That allowed him to buy a 10.1 per cent stake from Brookwell Ltd, a Guernsey investment fund, plus an 18.3 per cent stake from Sovereign Holding, a Bermuda-based holding company representing the Rappaport family.

Mr Ross, whose father and grandfather were directors of Cosalt, says his primary motivation is preserving jobs at the company, which employs about 360 staff.