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MTF tells shareholders to wait for valuation of offer

MTF tells shareholders to wait on Turners offer, Heartland renews interest

By Paul McBeth

Sept. 21 (BusinessDesk) - Motor Trade Finances said shareholders should wait for an updated valuation before deciding whether to accept Turners' offer to buy shares in the auto-finance firm, and said Heartland New Zealand has renewed its interest in buying the company.

The Dunedin-based company is getting an external valuation, and has told shareholders to wait until the board assesses Turners' bid to buy up to 20 percent of the firm at $1.15 per share and the Heartland approach. Last week, Turners said it wanted to buy up to a fifth of MTF, offering a premium to the 94 cents the shares traded at on the ShareMart system. They've since gained to 99 cents.

MTF said an internal valuation last year valued the company's shares for non-originating shareholders at $1.16 apiece, and was "substantially higher for active shareholders" who also receive extra commission due to their relationship with the lender.

"Although a number of factors have changed since the valuation, the board does not believe the current value is likely to be materially lower than last year's valuation, and does believe it could well be higher," chairman Stephen Higgs said.

Turners currently holds 218,452 MTF shares, amounting to almost 1 percent of the stock. It would need support of the target's board to acquire a fifth of the company, because MTF's constitution has restrictions on holdings above 10 percent.

Since Turners announced the offer, Heartland said it was still interested in buying MTF after putting a takeover proposal to the auto-lender last year.

"Your board intends to engage with both of these parties and also to take advice on the issues raised by Turners' offer and Heartland's approach," Higgs said. "At this point, we believe it would be prudent for ordinary shareholders to await further advice from the board before making any decision in relation to their shares."

The company also said it expects to pay a final dividend of 7 cents per share, taking the annual payout to 13 cents for the year.

(BusinessDesk)

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