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Ashcroft Buys 23% Stake in Dods From Michael Danson, CFO Says

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July 15 (Bloomberg) -- Michael Ashcroft, the U.K. Conservative Party’s single largest donor, acquired 23 percent of publisher Dods Group Plc from Michael Danson, said Chief Financial Officer Rupert Levy.

Dods, which owns the U.K. parliamentary magazine The House, said July 5 that it had received approaches from a “number of third parties” which may lead to an offer for the company. Levy declined to comment when asked by Bloomberg who had made the approaches.

The purchase makes Ashcroft the single largest shareholder in Dods with a 25 percent stake followed by Schroders Investment Management with 24 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Danson, owner of the New Statesman magazine, said in a regulatory filing yesterday that he sold his stake at 13.5 pence per share. Dods rose 2 pence, or 18 percent, to 13 pence yesterday, the biggest rise since April 2009. The stock was unchanged today.

Beth Saint, a spokeswoman for Schroders Investment, said “we have had no contact” when asked by Bloomberg if Ashcroft had communicated with the company.

Any party that acquires 30 percent or more of the voting rights of a company must make a cash offer to all other shareholders at the highest price paid in the 12 months before the offer was announced, according to U.K. Takeover Panel rules.

In April last year, the Sunday Times reported in its annual rich list that Ashcroft was worth 1.1 billion pounds ($1.7 billion), with assets in Belize and more than 80 million pounds in the U.K. including a holding in Watford Leisure Plc, which owns Watford Football Club.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Colin Keatinge at ckeatinge@bloomberg.net

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