Byline: James Fallon

LONDON — The independent directors of Pentland Group PLC, the activewear and footwear company, have backed a bid to take the company private.
As reported, Pentland received a proposal in July from Robert Stephen Holdings PLC to acquire the shares in the company it did not already own. RSH, which is headed by Pentland chairman Stephen Rubin, currently owns 56.4 percent of Pentland’s shares. The Rubin family own another 5.9 percent.
Late last week RSH made official its earlier indicated bid of $2.32 a share for the remaining shares, which values Pentland at $801 million. The offer represents a premium of 60 percent on the middle market price of Pentland’s shares on July 5, the day the proposal was first announced.
The shares closed Tuesday on the London Stock Exchange at $2.29, unchanged.
Dollar figures are translated from the English pound at current exchange.
“Pentland has a long history as a listed company,” Stephen Rubin said in a statement. “However, it has become increasingly evident that Pentland is not realizing any material benefit from its listing and we believe a large number of the minority investors would welcome a premium cash exit from their investment.
“A resumption of its former unlisted status will give greater flexibility in the management of the enlarged group’s affairs and remove the costs associated with Pentland’s continued listing,” Rubin added.
Pentland’s shares were once among the fastest-growing on the London Stock Exchange, fueled by its investment in the early Eighties in Reebok International. Rubin turned his initial $24,000 investment in Reebok into a 55 percent stake eventually worth $640 million. Pentland sold the last of its Reebok holding in the early Nineties and at one stage made a bid for Adidas AG. However, Pentland withdrew its offer and Adidas eventually was taken over by an investment group headed by Robert Louis-Dreyfus, its current chairman.
Pentland’s main holdings now include Speedo International, Ellesse, the outdoor brand Berghaus, the footwear license to La Chaussure Lacoste, the soccer brand Mitre and the footwear brand Kickers.
The company last week reported a 65.5 percent increase in profits to $22.3 million after taxes and extraordinary items on a 7.2 percent rise in sales to $407.5 million for the half-year ended June 30. This compares with profits of $13.5 million after taxes and extraordinary items on sales of $380.2 million a year earlier.
The profits increase resulted from substantially lower extraordinary charges relating to restructuring at Pentland as well as good growth at Speedo, Ellesse and Pentland’s footwear brands.