The corporate watchdog has stepped into Eastern Field’s takeover of Finders Resources at the eleventh hour.

Finders (ASX:FND) shares plunged 28.5 per cent to 15c on Thursday morning — marking a new 52-week low.

The offer is due to close on Friday and Eastern Field so far has 91.19 per cent.

But the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has thrown a potential spanner in the works.

ASIC has submitted an application to the federal government’s Takeovers Panel seeking orders that the acceptance of the offer by Finders’ second-largest shareholder, Taurus Funds Management, and two independent directors be cancelled.

“Finders shareholders should therefore not assume that the 90 per cent compulsory acquisition and compulsory buyout threshold will be maintained,” Finders told the market.

Finders announced in mid-December that shareholders representing 38.21 per cent had said that they did not intend to accept the offer of 23c per share.

This included the two independent directors and Taurus, which had a stake of around 11.31 per cent.

FND shares over the past year.
FND shares over the past year.

Last week, after Eastern Field gained a majority stake, Finders told shareholders to take the offer and said its directors would be accepting.

“ASIC submits that the effects of the circumstances include that investors in Finders have potentially suffered losses in connection with trading Finders shares in reliance on the statements,” the regulator said.

ASIC also wants withdrawal rights to be offered to Finders shareholders who accepted the offer on or after March 20.

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Eastern Field director David Fowler told Stockhead the suitor supports ASIC’s position.

“We will be cooperating fully with any requests for submissions or input from the Takeovers Panel,” he said.

This is the second application the Takeovers Panel has received in the Eastern Field-Finders battle.

Eastern Field submitted an application to the Panel in early March seeking orders that Finders provide “corrective disclosure and a revised independent expert’s report”.

The Panel did not take the matter further.

Finders has reiterated its recommendation that remaining shareholders accept Eastern Field’s offer.