By Clyde Mooney – editor Australian Hotelier

The Federal Takeovers Panel has been asked to adjudicate in a battle between investors over the right to buy shares in a pub group. 

The Lantern Hotel Group (LHG) operates eleven venues across New South Wales, including inner-Sydney landmark the Crown Hotel, which it purchased last September

LHG is the former ING Real Estate Entertainment Fund, which became IEF Real Estate Entertainment Group before changing again to Lantern in November 2012. It details its activities as:  “Investing in freehold of entertainment venues, hotels and bars”. 

A battle has emerged as prospective shareholder Totem Holdings Pty Ltd seeks to go ahead with the purchase of 12.6 per cent of LHG’s stapled securities, in conflict with LHG’s own discussions to buy back the securities. 

The company’s second-largest shareholder, Borg Fund, had previously discussed a buy-back scheme with LHG of its 24 per cent stake, but subsequently began discussions to split its shares between Totem Holdings and CVC Limited. 

Earlier this month LHG filed with proceedings in the Equity Division of the Supreme Court of New South Wales seeking primarily to stop the sale to the other parties. 

In response, Totem’s application to the Takeover Panel submits that LHG is in breach of the 20 per cent takeovers prohibition and LHG’s relevant interest would go from zero to 24 per cent, while the stake of the largest shareholder, New Zealand-based equity firm Torchlight, would increase from approximately 30 to 40 per cent with the only serious rival subsequently removed. 

Totem is seeking interim and final orders that LHG be restrained from going through with the buy-back and that relevant parties are released from obligations, and that Torchlight be prevented from voting on approval of the scheme. 

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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