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Speaking of private equity….Clayton, Dubilier & Rice has moved a step closer to its takeover of UDG Healthcare after raising its offer to £2.8bn and winning backing from big shareholders.

CD&R has increased its offer to £10.80 a share as signalled last week, after its earlier bid of £10.23 a share in May met opposition from some of UDG’s largest investors. The UDG board has recommended that shareholders accept the offer, and said it had not received any rival buyout proposals.

The FTSE 250 listed firm’s share price rose 0.5% to £10.71 on Tuesday, valuing the company at £2.7bn. Dublin-based UDG employs 9,000 people and provides advisory, communications, commercial, clinical and packaging services to the healthcare industry. It counts the top 30 pharma companies among its clients.

CD&R said that UDG’s biggest shareholder with an 8.6% stake, Allianz Global Investors, which had rejected the initial bid as too low, and another investor, Kabouter Management, had agreed to accept the higher offer. Allianz and Kabouter together own for 11.4% of the shares.

However, M&G, another top 10 shareholder, indicated last week that £10.80 a share would still fall short of its expectations. UDG said an extraordinary general meeting to vote on the deal, which had been postponed to allow for further negotiations, will take place on 22 July….

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Bridgepoint, the private equity group behind restaurant group Itsu, online cycling specialist Wiggle and the UK arm of Burger King, is planning to raise £300m with a stock market flotation in London.

The listing, expected to value Bridgepoint at up to £2bn in total, comes amid a surge in private equity deals partly prompted by a fall in asset values during the Covid-19 pandemic. Low interest rates have also led investors to pump money into private equity in search of better returns.

In the UK, supermarket Asda has recently been snapped up in a £6.8bn deal backed by private equity group TDR Capital while its rival Morrisons is expected to be at the centre of a bidding battle between private equity groups after the supermarket’s management rejected an initial £5.5bn offer from Clayton, Dubilier & Rice.

Bridgepoint recently bought a stake in Itsu, the Asian food chain created by Julian Metcalfe, having previously backed him during the expansion of sandwich chain Pret a Manger.

The firm, which focuses on mid-sized deals of up to €1bn, was formed in 2000 after a management buyout of NatWest’s private equity arm.

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