The tortuous chase for control of Santa Anita Cos. took another wide turn Friday when the only bidding group with a publicly announced offer said it has pulled out of the contest.
The group--consisting of real estate specialists Koll Co. of Newport Beach, Colony Capital Inc. of Los Angeles and Apollo Real Estate Advisors in New York--made good on an ultimatum in which it threatened to withdraw unless it struck a deal with Santa Anita by the close of business Friday.
"The offer has expired," said Owen Blicksilver, a spokesman for the group. "It's over."
He declined to say if the Koll-Colony-Apollo group might submit a revised offer for Santa Anita, an Arcadia-based concern that runs the famous horse-racing track Santa Anita Park and other real estate interests.
The group had appeared to be the only suitor for Santa Anita until Thursday, when the company disclosed that it was reviewing offers from "several strategic and financial buyers" and that it was starting final negotiations with some of those suitors. Santa Anita did not disclose names of the other bidders.
On Friday, Santa Anita discounted the move by the Koll-Colony-Apollo group, saying its review process would continue "beyond the unilateral deadline established" by the group.
Santa Anita also urged the group "to continue in the process" and said it didn't expect the group's withdrawal "to affect the ultimate value" to be gained by Santa Anita's investors.
Under its expired offer, the Koll-Colony-Apollo group offered to inject $116.5 million into Santa Anita in exchange for 70% ownership of the company. As part of the deal, the group also planned to provide special dividends and stock-buyback offers as a way for Santa Anita shareholders to reap as much as $27 for each of their shares.
Santa Anita's stock closed Thursday at $28 a share in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The markets were closed for Good Friday. A year ago, the stock stood at $14.50 a share.
The Santa Anita saga began in August when the company--suffering from lackluster financial results and a weak balance sheet--struck a deal to sell a big ownership interest to Colony in exchange for fresh equity capital.
That arrangement was criticized as too low by some major Santa Anita shareholders and later challenged by Koll and Apollo. But in mid-March, Koll, Apollo and Colony all joined forces to gain control of the company.
Santa Anita is technically two companies whose shares are "paired" and trade as one on the NYSE. The companies are Santa Anita Operating Co., which runs the track, and Santa Anita Realty Enterprises Inc., which owns the 400-acre track facility and other real estate.