Convenience chain Nisa has recommended its 1,190 shopkeeper members agree to a £143m takeover from The Co-operative Group after months of protracted talks (The Telegraph). The Co-op will pay up to £137.5m over four years, plus £5.5m in transaction costs and take on Nisa’s £105m debt, The Financial Times notes. Nisa would remain a standalone business and brand. Next month Nisa’s 1,190 shopkeeper members will vote on whether to accept the deal after a roadshow by the board (The Times).
Formal news that ready meals manufacturer Bakkavor is to float on the London Stock Market, raising around £100m to pay down debt and fund investment in the company generates plenty of column inches. The Telegraph writes that the business, which supplies Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, accounts for 30% of the UK market for freshly prepared meals. The Times says that Bakkavor has come in from the cold after Iceland’s economic chaos. “Capping a remarkable reversal in its fortunes and delivering a timely boost to the City, Bakkavor, which supplies ready meals, salads and desserts to Tesco, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer, is looking to raise £100 million by issuing new shares in an initial public offering that is said to value it at between £1 billion and £1.5 billion,” the paper writes. The Mail goes with the headline: “Shamed Icelandic money men plot £1.5bn comeback.”
The Lex column in The Financial Times says Bakkavor is one of a cluster of companies seeking to drum up fresh interest. “For some, this reheated company is a perfect metaphor for the state of the nation’s capital markets,” the paper writes. Sparked by the Bakkavor news, The Telegraph asks if after a year of fear the London IPO market has rediscovered its mojo.
The sheer scale of Tesco meant the financial picture could change “overnight”, the court in the ongoing trial has heard (The Guardian). Nicholas Purnell QC, for the defence, gave the example of March 2014 when the finance team forecast a monthly sales shortfall of £108m versus internal targets for the UK food business – only for that figure to be reduced by £32m some 24 hours later.
Procter & Gamble claimed victory in its battle with Nelson Peltz, saying the activist investor had been denied a seat on the consumer group’s board after the largest proxy battle corporate America has seen to date, The Financial Times reports. The paper says in a separate article that the Peltz’s P&G loss is unlikely to stop the activist investing tide. And the Lex column adds that now is not the time for the consumer products giant to rest easy.
Recipe kit delivery start-up HelloFresh is planning a second attempt at an initial public offering in an effort to expand and outmanoeuvre US rivals Amazon and Blue Apron (The Financial Times). The German company said it was looking to raise up to €300m in the flotation. The Lex column in The Financial Times takes a withering look at the plans with the headline: “HelloFresh: goodbye money”. “A HelloFresh delivery is a box of promises that cannot be kept,” the paper says. “Those contemplating backing the second attempt to list the lossmaking German company should realise the fad for meal kits suffers from inherent constraints of form. Competition means profits will probably moulder.”
Two Scottish whisky distilleries will reopen after more than three decades after a £35m investment by Diageo (The Financial Times).
Costa Coffee hopes to feed growing demand for caffeine in China after spending £35m on the remaining stake of one of its joint ventures in the country (The Telegraph).
Pregnant women, children and the elderly can safely eat runny or raw eggs carrying a British Lion mark, according to official guidance that ends three decades of health fears (The Times).
Pub group Marston’s trimmed its expansion plans on the back of a more cautious consumer outlook, The Telegraph reports. Chief executive Ralph Findlay said the company had been targeting 20 new pubs a year but in its 2018 financial year it will only build 15.