US hedge fund Paulson & Co, until recently Premier Foods’ second-biggest investor, has launched a blistering attack on the company after it blamed commodity prices and a weak pound for a profit warning that sent its shares tumbling. Paulson accused the maker of Mr Kipling cakes and Ambrosia puddings of being “grossly mismanaged” and called on the board to put Premier up for sale. (The Financial Times £)
Gavin Darby, chief executive of Premier Foods said that the food producer was having to cope with extraordinary commodity price increases (The Times £). It has been grappling not only a rise in the cost of core commodities but also the effects of weaker sterling, which makes things like sugar more expensive to buy in pounds (Sky News). Darby had previously argued that Premier Foods was better protected than its multinational food rivals because it manufactured all its products in the UK and paid for 89% of goods in sterling (The Telegraph).
The FT’s Lombard column writes: “As with most ill winds, people want some warning. In November, when chief executive Gavin Darby said he faced “less of a cost impact” than rivals, because Premier makes 95% of its products in Britain, he was not wrong. He just appears less than prescient after a profit warning, and a share price fall to 41p, so soon afterwards.” (The Financial Times £)
Vegemite, the potently-flavoured breakfast spread, is to return to Australian ownership after spending most of its near century of existence in foreign hands, just as sales growth is starting to flag. Mondelez International is selling the yeast extract spread to Bega Cheese as part of a A$460m (US$345m) deal that also includes the disposal of most of Mondelez’s Antipodean brands. (The Financial Times £)
Bega said on Thursday it would acquire Vegemite, ZoOSh mayonnaise and Bonox under the deal to buy most of Mondelez International’s Australia and New Zealand grocery and cheese business. (The Guardian)
BHS administrators charged with selling the remains of the collapsed retailer have been quizzed over their rising fees. Duff & Phelps – appointed by Sir Philip Green – is expected to charge more than £4m for its work, £500,000 more than originally estimated. (The Daily Mail)