Thursday 23 November 2017

Greencore gets go-ahead for sandwich deal

FOOD

Peter Flanagan

Peter Flanagan

GREENCORE'S acquisition of the UK sandwich-maker Uniq moved a step closer yesterday after the Irish firm's shareholders overwhelmingly backed the deal.

At the company's extraordinary general meeting (EGM) yesterday, 99.9pc of shareholders voted for the deal, which will see Greencore pay an estimated €113m for the British company which supplies sandwiches and other ready meals to the British supermarket sector, especially Marks & Spencer.

Shareholders also backed a new rights issue to cover €80.2m of the deal. The issue, underwritten by Barclays Capital, will see investors offered five new shares for every six they currently own at a discount of 52.1pc. Those who don't take up the offer will have their holding diluted by 45.5pc.

Chief executive Patrick Coveney was jubilant after the meeting.

"We're delighted and to get the support we did here is great. We now have six to eight weeks to complete the transaction, and go through competition clearance in the UK," he said.

As part of the deal, Greencore will switch its primary listing to London, which will see the company delist from the Irish Stock Exchange "at some stage in the next year", Mr Coveney added.

While the company expects to have a secondary listing in Dublin once the UK listing has "settled", Mr Coveney did not put a timeframe on a return to the Dublin market.

At the EGM, shareholders raised concerns that Greencore would retain Uniq's supply contracts with the major supermarkets in the UK, but chairman Ned Sullivan was confident that would not be a problem.

As part of the deal, Greencore will report its earnings in sterling while shareholders will be offered their dividends in sterling if they wish.

The board also confirmed that Uniq's directors will leave the company once the sale is complete. Greencore closed down 3.5pc at 84c.

Chairman of Greencore Ned Sullivan (left) has a chat with CEO Patrick Coveney, flanked by company secretary Conor O'Leary, at the Greencore group EGM at the Crowne Plaza, Dublin yesterday. Mark Condren

Irish Independent

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