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Access Offers to Take Perform Group Private

LONDON ( The Deal) -- Len Blavatnik's Access Industries Group announced an offer for the 67.5% of London sports rights company Perform Group that it does not already own, valuing the company's fully diluted equity at 701.6 million pounds ($1.2 billion).

At 260 pence a share, the offer matches the price at which Perform listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2011 and represents a premium of 27.6% to Friday's closing price of 203.8 pence. But Access described the offer as final -- and received a cool reception from the target's board.

Perform said it had confidence in its existing strategy and growth prospects, which it set out last week together with its first-half results. It urged shareholders to take no action.

A spokesman for Perform declined to elaborate, beyond saying that the company would make a further announcement in due course.

Access has owned a stake in Perform since its creation from the 2007 merger between its own web-and-mobile sports technology provider Premium TV, and the digital sports rights agency Inform. It retained a 45.2% stake at IPO, which was later diluted in a share placing used to fund the 40 million pound acquisition of live sports data provider Opta Sportsdata in July 2013.

Perform's shares peaked at 589 pence last year, but crashed in December after it issued a profit warning.

Access said that taking the company private would show its continued support for the company and belief in its future, while offering existing shareholders the option to exit at a premium.

"Access Industries has been a supporter of Perform from the start and we continue to have confidence in Perform's management and in the company's future potential," said Access Industries CEO Lincoln Benet in a statement.

Access said that it would finance the acquisition of the remaining shares - for up to 410.3 million pounds -- from existing cash resources.

Perform, of Feltham, England, commercializes multimedia sports rights worldwide through content distribution, subscription, sales of advertising and sponsorship and the provision of technology and production services. Perform on Friday said first-half revenues were up 29% compared with the same period last year, at 118.8 million pounds, but Ebitda was virtually unchanged at 15.63 million pounds. But it said the hard work involved in cutting its cost base had been completed and the company was now on course to improve performance.

"The group has had a positive first six months with strong growth in year-on-year revenues," it said. "Whilst profitability has been impacted by the legacy cost base, the heavy lifting underpinning the hroup's cost reduction programmes has been completed and the benefits are on track to materialise during H2."

However, that confidence was not enough to prevent the shares sliding from 216 pence at the open on Friday to 203.8 pence at the close. By contrast, Perform was trading at 257.5 pence by early afternoon on Monday, 2.5 pence below Access Industry's offer, through its vehicle AI PG LLC.

Access is advised by David Wheeler, Stuart Upcraft, Stuart Field and Joe Hannon of Credit Suisse Group.

Perform's brokers are Morgan Stanley and UBS AG. Its legal advisers are Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP.

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