Insurance tycoon Sir Peter Wood swoops on Dignity a deal worth more than £260m
Insurance tycoon Sir Peter Wood is spearheading a bid to buy funeral firm Dignity in a deal worth more than £260million.
The 76-year-old, who is worth some £860million after setting up Direct Line, Esure, Sheilas’ Wheels and Go Compare, has joined forces with the former Dignity boss Gary Channon and tabled a string of offers.
Dignity yesterday revealed the pair made three approaches last year – worth 475p, 500p and 510p a share – that it ‘unanimously rejected’.
Multiple bids: Sir Peter Wood, 76, (pictured) has joined forces with the former Dignity boss Gary Channon and tabled a string of offers
But it said it was ‘minded’ to back a fourth offer worth 525p a share should a formal bid be lodged. That values Dignity at £262.7million. Shares soared 25.7 per cent, or 109.5p, to 535p.
Wood said: ‘Dignity has long-term growth potential - the signs are clear to me.
‘But the changes and significant development work and investment needed to enable this growth mean the best way forward for Dignity is as a private company.’
Channon, who was chief executive of Dignity until last year and previously executive chairman, added: ‘We strongly believe that the changes needed to unlock the potential of Dignity are better implemented as a private company.’
The pair have launched their bid to take control of Dignity through a consortium comprised of Wood’s investment vehicle SPW One and Channon’s fund Castelnau.
The approach, one of the first major takeover bids of the year on the London stock market, follows something of a dry spell for deal-making after soaring inflation, higher interest rates and concerns about the global economy brought the takeover boom of recent years to a shuddering halt.
However, Dignity said that while it was in ‘advanced discussions’ with Wood and Channon ‘there can be no certainty either that an offer will be made nor as to the terms of any offer, if made’.
The deal has been months in the making with Wood and Channon, who is chief investment officer at Phoenix Asset Management Partners, which manages the Castelnau fund, tabling the first approach in October.
The 525p a share offer now being discussed was made on November 13.
But the offer price is well below the 940p Dignity shares were trading at as recently as July 2021.