Belfast Telegraph

No bids made for Premier Foods, says the firm's CEO

By Ravender Sembhy

The chief executive of Premier Foods has defended the company's decision to reject three takeover offers from McCormick, describing the US food giant's attempts as "phantom".

Gavin Darby, who has come under fire from shareholders because of the move, said that despite having full access to Premier's accounts, a firm bid for the Mr Kipling cakes maker never materialised.

He told the Press Association: "The majority of shareholders recognise that there never was a bid from McCormick - it was a phantom bid. They recognise the difference between an indicative offer and a real offer.

"They had full access to the business and still didn't come up with a firm offer. Not all shareholders accept that, but most do."

Shareholders in Premier, which is also the company behind Ambrosia custard, have previously vented their anger at Mr Darby for rejecting McCormick's indicative offers, which valued the company at a 90% premium to its share price.

Instead of tying up with McCormick, Premier announced a collaboration agreement with Japanese firm Nissin, which now holds a 19.9% stake in the company. Nissin's managing director, Tsunao Kijima, has also been appointed to Premier's board as a non-executive director.

Mr Darby's comments come alongside full year results showing Premier's pre-tax profits grew 3.5% to £86.1m, while sales grew 0.6% to £771m. Sales in the fourth quarter were up 1.4%.

Revenue is forecast to grow between 2% and 4% this year, and the firm has reduced its debt by £50m to £534.2m.

Belfast Telegraph