Second bidder unhappy with sale of ‘Racing Post’

Z Capital Partners dissatisfied with process because of limited financial information

Z Capital Partners, a $1.8 billion (€1.4 billion) US investment fund, is the second bidder for the €180 million debt of the Racing Post to be dissatisfied with the sale process because of limited financial information.

Tim Hailstone, a veteran British publisher backed by private equity giant Apollo, said earlier this month he had decided not to bid because he did not have access to up-to-date financial information about the print and online horseracing paper.

The special liquidator of IBRC, formerly Anglo Irish Bank, put loans related to the Racing Post up for sale earlier this year. Stradbrook Acquisitions, its existing owner, is understood to have successfully acquired the title's debt from the special liquidators of IBRC.

Legal advice

The special liquidator declined to comment. It is understood to be satisfied that the process was run fairly and the price paid for the Racing Post loan by its previous owners, while at a significant discount to par-value, was above an independent valuation placed on it by PWC. It is understood to have taken legal advice on the amount of information it could make available as the seller of debt related to a business, rather than the business itself.

A source familiar with Z Capital, which has interests in gaming, hotels, automotive, steel and consumer products, said financial information relating to the sale was outdated as it related to 2012 financial accounts.

There were also concerns raised about the amount of information available about the Racing Post trademark deal with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum which means the Racing Post operates under licence from the monarch of Dubai. It is understood Z Capital felt it was at an disadvantage in bidding as a result.

‘Not surprised’

Mr Hailstone told The Irish Times he was "not surprised" other parties had complained

"The debt has been entirely supported by the operations of the business and I would be surprised if, in the absence of information about the current financial performance of the Racing Post and its future prospects, financial sponsors would back a binding bid," he said. "Mine certainly wouldn't. The only bidder with access to this vital information was the one that appears to have been successful [the existing shareholders in the media company]."

Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath said the task for the special liquidator was to ensure a "level playing field" for all bidders.