Stalemate at sportscaster Perform

Corporate shenanigans unlikely to have impact on its services

Online sportscaster Perform yesterday told shareholders to reject an €875 million offer by Len Blavatnik's Access Group – owner of Warner Music – to take the London-listed company private, leaving the bid at something of a crossroads.

Perform buys rights to sports events – it has deals with up to 200 football leagues – and streams them online to customers including bookmakers such as Paddy Power, Ladbrokes and William Hill, who then provide live content for punters who want to bet "in running", that is, while a game is under way.

It floated on the London market at 260p sterling in 2011, and its shares had more than doubled in value by midway through last year, when they were trading at close to 590p.

However, a profit warning in December sent them tumbling and they have since been languishing at levels below their launch price. Access owns 42.5 per cent of the business. It wanted to increase its stake to more than 50 per cent, but was reportedly not interested in taking the company private.


Before it began building up its stake it approached the Takeover Panel, which last week told it that instead of taking its holding beyond 50 per cent, it would have to offer to buy out the other shareholders.

The panel's reasoning was based on the likely influence that Access would have over other institutional investors. This is presumably a consequence of the group's broad investment portfolio, which includes a stake in Rusal, owner of Aughinish Alumina.

The 260p bid is a premium on the prices at which the stock has been trading in recent weeks. However, that has cut no ice with Perform's board, whose membership includes broadcaster Gabby Logan, which has said that it underavlues the company and its prospects.

The question now is where does it all go from here?

Access has said that it is not prepared to offer any more but those charged with safeguarding the company’s interests say it is not enough. In an odd way, the Takeover Panel seems to have created a stalemate that, for now at least, appears to benefit nobody.

For punters the good news is that the corporate shenanigans are unlikely to have any impact on its services, so if you have been betting on obscure European league football and watching it live via your bookie’s website, your fun will continue unabated.