Goals Soccer Centres agrees to £73m Canadian buyout

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GOALS Soccer Centres, which runs five-a-side football centres across the United Kingdom, agreed to a £73.1m buyout offer from one of Canada’s largest pension funds.

The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan - better known simply as Teachers’ - said that Goals’ board of directors had agreed to unanimously recommend its all cash offer to the company’s shareholders.

Teachers’ will pay 144p per share for Goals, according to a statement from the company. The offer represents a premium of 6.7 per cent to Goals’ closing price yesterday.

The agreement comes slightly more than three months after Goals said Teachers’ had approached it with a preliminary bid.

Earlier this month, Goals also confirmed that private equity firm Patron Capital had expressed an interest in acquiring the company.

At the time, Goals said it remained in talks with Teachers’. The pension fund was given until July 23 to come in with a firm bid, after completing its due diligence process.

The pension fund, which is acquiring the company through its private equity arm Teachers’ Private Capital (TPC), said the deal requires, among other things, the backing of shareholders, holding at least 75 per cent of the company’s shares.

Goals owns and operates 43 outdoor five-a-side football centres in the United Kingdom including sites in Bradford, Hull, Leeds and Sheffield, plus one in the United States. Each centre houses several pitches made of synthetic grass and are typically floodlit. The company has about 800 employees.

“We believe that this will be a win-win for investors, employees and the thousands of players who enjoy using Goals’ facilities,” said TPC’s European head Jo Taylor in a statement.

Teachers’ is the largest single-profession pension plan in Canada.

It invests and administers the pensions of about 300,000 active and retired teachers in Ontario, Canada’s most populous province.

TPC manages a global portfolio valued at about 12bn Canadian dollars. Teachers’ private equity investments over the last two decades have achieved an average annualized return of close to 20 per cent.

Teachers’ and Canadian peers like Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), and Caisse de depot et placement have been among the world’s most active dealmakers in recent years, making major bets both in Canada and overseas. The investments have focused largely around real estate, natural resources and infrastructure projects.

“We are excited at the growth plans for the future,” said TPC’s Taylor. “Our aim is to cement Goals’ position as the UK’s premier five-a-side operator and help the business to achieve its full potential.”