Julia Ross eyes $26 million payday as battle for recruitment firm to drag on

The takeover battle for Ross Human Directions, the recruitment firm owned by leading female entrepreneur Julia Ross, is set to drag on until at least December 16 as the company’s board continues negotiations over a takeover bid from listed recruitment company Chandler Macleod.

While shareholders were due to vote on a takeover proposal from Malaysian company Peoplebank yesterday, that meeting was adjourned to allow the RHD board to continue its negotiations.

While Peoplebank has offered 70c a share via a scheme of arrangement, Chandler Macleod this week upped its bid from 73c a share to 75c a share.

But there are conditions. The bid will only increase to 75c a share once 90% of RHD shareholders agree to the takeover, and Chandler Macleod wants a stake of 19.9% before its takeover bid will formally proceed.

That essentially means one of RHD’s biggest two shareholders – Julia Ross, who owns 44.5% of the company or Hungry Jack’s founder Jack Cowin, who owns 19.8% – have to agree to back the bid.

While Cowin has been working with Chandler Macleod behind the scenes, Ross is yet to indicate whether she will back the bid.

However, she had previously endorsed the Peoplebank transaction, so she does appear willing to sell.

Ross told the Australian Financial Review it was an emotional decision.

“I have been doing this for 22 years. There is a time when this offer came on and we had to consider it.”

“It was a vast increase from the share price at the time, so you have to do the right thing by shareholders. It’s not happy, it’s very emotional.”

The bidding has seen the value of Ross’ stake soar over the last few months.

Back in July, before the takeover talk started, her shares were worth $14.3 million. However, if Chandler Macleod’s 75c offer is accepted, Ross will pocket $26.2 million.

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