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Ex-Navitas CEO part of surprise takeover offer

Global education provider, Navitas Group, has received an unsolicited AUD$1.97bn bid from a consortium, including former Navitas chief executive Rod Jones, to take over the publicly-listed company and move it into the private RollCo.

Rod Jones in conversation with The PIE's Amy Baker in 2015. Photo: The PIE News

The consortium, which is made up of BGH Capital, AustralianSuper and Jones, proposes to acquire 100% of outstanding Navitas shares, either via a buy-out at $5.50 per share, or $2.75 per share and an offer to shareholders of one share in RollCo for every two shares currently held in Navitas.

“I believe this is a fair and equitable deal… in the best interests of all Navitas shareholders”

Navitas, which was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange as IBT Education in 2004, currently has a stock price of $5.21.

Jones, who co-founded the organisation and was recently replaced as chief executive by David Buckingham, has been excluded from his responsibilities as a board member and had his access to private company information suspended.

According to its ASX (the Australian stock exchange) announcement, the Navitas board is reviewing the proposal and considering shareholder feedback.

“While the Board undertakes its review of the Indicative Proposal, it is important that management are not distracted by this review process,” Navitas chair Tracey Horton said in a statement.

“The Board has already received a range of differing views from shareholders and other stakeholders in the days since the Indicative Proposal was announced, and will consider these views fully as it completes its assessment… with the highest priority,” a new statement released on Tuesday October 16 revealed.

“[We must] remain focused on maintaining our strong relationships with our partners despite the uncertainties created by the Indicative Proposal, delivering outstanding educational experiences for our students, and delivering future business momentum, including addressing historic performance issues.”

“I believe this is a fair and equitable deal, struck at an appropriate premium to Navitas’ prevailing share price, and is in the best interests of all Navitas shareholders,” Jones said in an email to Reuters.

“I remain passionate about the Navitas business and the education sector, which is why I have agreed to vend half my shareholding into the new holding company.”

Navitas’ board made clear the comments were Jones’s personal view and “the Board is yet to form a view on the merits of the Indicative Proposal”.

According to report, Jones approached the consortium to be included in the bid, and if successful, would see him sell half of his 12.6% stake in Navitas for cash and roll over his remaining shares into the newly formed RollCo.

BGH Capital’s bid to acquire health provider, HealthScope, was rejected in early 2018.

You can watch our Chat with Rod Jones in 2015 here.

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