AA takeover stalls as suit­ors step away from talks with trou­bled break­down com­pany

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Front Page - By Si­mon Foy

TWO suit­ors eye­ing a takeover of debt­laden break­down com­pany the AA have pulled out of the race three weeks af­ter a dead­line for bids was ex­tended, send­ing shares plung­ing.

Plat­inum Eq­uity and Cen­ter­bridge Part­ners both said they have walked away from talks with the AA’s board, in a move that could po­ten­tially leave just one con­sor­tium bid­ding for the em­bat­tled for­mer FTSE 250 busi­ness.

Shares fell 17pc to 28p, valu­ing the com­pany at just un­der £180m. The stock has fallen 93pc from its peak in 2015.

The AA stunned the City at the start of Au­gust by con­firm­ing re­ports of pri­vate eq­uity in­ter­est, say­ing it was in talks with three po­ten­tial buy­ers.

Last month it emerged that one bid­der, War­burg Pin­cus, was speak­ing to an al­legedly ri­val con­sor­tium led by

Cen­ter­bridge and Tower­brook Cap­i­tal Part­ners about com­bin­ing forces rather than launch­ing ri­val of­fers. The Daily Tele­graph re­ported last month that another sup­pos­edly in­ter­ested party, US buy­out fund Apollo, was un­der­stood to be fo­cused on re­fi­nanc­ing some of the AA’s near £2.7bn debt pile as op­posed to mak­ing a swoop for its shares.

Find­ing a buyer has proven more dif­fi­cult than first hoped for the com­pany, and a dead­line set by the Takeover Panel ear­lier this month passed with­out any bids ar­riv­ing. This forced AA to ask for an ex­ten­sion, with the new dead­line set at Sept 29.

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