Business Irish

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Investment firm headed by US billionaire Brandes raises C&C stake to 9pc

US investor Charles Brandes
US investor Charles Brandes
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

A FIRM controlled by billionaire US investor Charles Brandes has boosted its stake in Bulmers maker C&C to more than 9pc, confirming its position as the second-largest shareholder in the Irish drinks firm.

It's the second time in weeks that the Brandes Investment Partners vehicle has increased its holding in C&C.

The stake building comes just days after C&C released full-year results that showed it had slashed the value of its US assets by €129m during its last financial year as a recovery in its business there continues to elude it.

San Diego-based Brandes Investment Partners - which has its European HQ in Dublin and describes itself as a value investor - has raised its stake in C&C by 50pc since February this year. A US investment fund, controlled by Southeastern Asset Management, increased its stake in C&C to more than 15pc in February.

At the end of February 2016, C&C's biggest shareholder was Franklin Templeton, with a 10.7pc stake. At the time, Brandes owned 4.3pc of the drinks maker, whose large stable of brands also includes Tennent's.

But Franklin Templeton has slashed its holding in the Irish firm since then. The most recent stock exchange filing by the firm shows that on May 8, it held 4.9pc of C&C, having cut its stake from the previous 5.9pc level.

The latest stock exchange filing by Brandes Investment Partners shows that the US firm most recently raised its C&C holding on Monday this week. It now controls 28.1m shares in the cider maker, which are worth €98m. C&C has a market capitalisation of almost €1.1bn.

In its first-quarter update earlier this year, Brandes Investment Partners told investors that stock volatility would increase this year with elections in France, Germany and the Netherlands. Two of those elections have now been completed.

"The elections and the speculation leading up to them will likely increase volatility," it noted. "This could translate into opportunities at the company level, particularly within Europe where valuations have already appeared significantly discounted relative to those in the United States."

C&C's full-year results were welcomed by analysts. Net revenue fell 6.9pc to €559.5m in the year to the end of February. Its operating profit was unchanged at €95m. C&C raised its final dividend by 5pc to 9.3 cent per share.

Last year, it returned €66m to shareholders via dividends and share buybacks. Its shares have declined about 10pc since the start of the year.

Irish Independent

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