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Glamour tie is a late result for Goals

Goals Soccer Centres has drawn a glamour tie, sealing a joint venture with the owner of Manchester City Football Club which, on the face of it, looks like a good result for the East Kilbride based company.

However, investors and former directors will be wondering about what might have been had they sold the five-a-side football business five years ago.

In 2012 Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan bid 144p per share for the company, valuing it at £73 million. It was described as a “win-win” for investors, who nevertheless rejected the board’s recommendation to back the offer.

Ontario had promised to plough £40m into the company over five years by adding 25 sites to Goals’ estate and to expand the company overseas, building on the one site it then owned in the US.

Goals had 44 sites in total at the time, so if the Ontario plan had come to fruition it would now be managing 69. Instead, it has 48 and after the CFG deal was announced the share price closed at 105p. CFG is pledging an initial £12m investment, a more cautious outlay than Ontario’s commitment.

Over the intervening years Goals has struggled as an independent, changed its management and shaken up the board. It has been rewarded with an improved trading performance.

Despite the lukewarm reaction from shareholders to the CFG tie-up, it looks like it may give the company some added stability and underpin its operations at home.

Even so, Goals’ board and investors will hope the CFG deal accelerates its growth plans and amounts to more than making up for an opportunity missed.

Standard procedure for £11bn merger

It would have been more of a story if the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority had rejected the £11 billion proposed merger of Standard Life and Aberdeen Asset Management.

Once again it prompted a few headlines, but like the approval by the Competition and Markets Authority there was never really a likelihood of their decisions going any other way.

Shares in the two companies have edged up since the deal was announced in March, reflecting investor confidence that everything is on track for the 14 August merger to complete when it will become Standard Life Aberdeen, a name it may come to regret since it is based in Edinburgh.

The more interesting bit is yet to come when we hear who will be getting the top jobs below board level, in particular among the senior fund managers.

While some media folk doorstepped unwitting office workers about their futures, the real action will take place among the key decision makers where duplication is a key matter to be addressed. Sadly, there just won’t be enough chairs available for some top notch performers.

David Cummings, long-serving head of equities at Standard Life and regular BBC Radio Four pundit, quit when the deal was unveiled, so becoming the first high profile casualty. Daily Business understands he is pondering a number of offers.



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