AmTrust investors have given their assent to the company’s $14.75 per share go-private deal with Stone Point, putting an end to long-running shareholder opposition to the proposed deal tabled by the firm’s CEO, his wife’s family and their backers.
In a statement today (21 June) the carrier said the deal, which values it at around $2.95bn, is now expected to close in the second half of this year subject to regulatory approvals.
The vote passed with the support of 79.8 percent of common voting stock backing the deal, while the public shareholders - the 45 percent of the shares not connected to CEO Barry Zyskind or his wife Leah Karfunkel’s family - voted 67.4 percent in favour.
Zyskind said he was pleased with the outcome of the vote which he said maximised the value on offer for public shareholders after the company in conjunction with its private equity backers upped the per share offer to $14.75 from an initial price of $13.50 following an intervention by activist investor Carl Icahn.
“I would like to thank our approximately 8,000 global employees who, throughout this process, have remained focused on serving our policyholders with best-in-class dedication and service,” he said.
“As our company continues to innovate and drive toward operational excellence, our team members will be AmTrust’s most valuable engine in achieving our long-term objectives.”
Jim Carey, senior principal of Stone Point Capital, added “Stone Point is excited to partner alongside the Karfunkel-Zyskind family and AmTrust’s management team.
“We look forward to working closely with management to help them drive their current operational initiatives and ultimately capitalize on the longer-term opportunities for the business.”
Yesterday, AmTrust shares were trading at $14.68, just a few cents shy of the revised offer price, which was raised after the shock intervention by Icahn.
The billionaire activist investor effectively forced AmTrust’s CEO, his in-laws and their backers to increase their bid to $14.75 as he waged a very public war of words with the backers who were looking to take the firm private.
The decision to increase the bid was yet the latest development in what has been a protracted and tumultuous sales process that started in January when Barry Zyskind, his wife’s family - the Karfunkels - and Stone Point tabled a $12.25 per share offer to take the company private.
The proposed deal was met with fury from some shareholders who have seen the company’s stock value fall from a lofty high of $33.54 in the summer of 2015, after a series of scandals.
But speculation around a rival bid eventually drove the company’s share price higher than the bid tabled by Zyskind and his backers.
That forced the consortium of buyers to increase the offer to $13.50 per share for the 45 percent of the company not already owned by Zyskind and his wife’s family.
Then just weeks before a vote on the proposed deal, which was slated for 4 June, activist investor Carl Icahn shocked the market, revealing that he had accrued a 9.4 percent stake in AmTrust and intended to block the deal.
The news sent the firm’s share price up to $13.76, above the price Zyskind and his in-laws were offering at the time as shareholders bet on Icahn’s ability to negotiate a better deal.
Icahn’s involvement and staunch objection to the deal forced AmTrust to postpone the shareholder vote after it became apparent that it was unlikely to persuade a significant majority of the remaining shareholders - who own the 35.6 percent of the company not held by Zyskind, the Karfunkels and Icahn - to vote in favour of the deal.