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Saturday 20 October 2018

Oasis gobbles up bigger slice of Mr Kipling cake maker

It will give the activist investor more fire power when it votes for the removal of Premier Foods boss Gavin Darby.

Oasis Management has increased its stake in Mr Kipling firm Premier Foods ahead of a crunch vote on chief executive Gavin Darby’s future (Premier Foods/PA)
Oasis Management has increased its stake in Mr Kipling firm Premier Foods ahead of a crunch vote on chief executive Gavin Darby’s future (Premier Foods/PA)

By Ravender Sembhy, Press Association City Editor

Oasis Management, an activist investor calling for the head of Premier Foods boss Gavin Darby, has increased its stake in the Mr Kipling firm ahead of a crunch vote on the chief executive’s future.

The group, which is calling for the immediate removal of Mr Darby, upped its holding in Premier from 9.09% to 17.3%.

It will give Oasis more fire power when it votes for Mr Darby’s removal at Premier’s forthcoming AGM on July 18.

Piling further pressure on Mr Darby is US hedge fund Paulson & Co, which also increased its stake from 1.99% to 6.08%.

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Some investors are calling for Premier Foods chief executive Gavin Darby to be removed at the company’s AGM (Premier Foods/PA)

The group has been critical of the chief executive’s strategy in the past when he oversaw the successful defence of a takeover tilt from US firm McCormick in 2016.

For its part, Oasis has claimed that Mr Darby has presided over five years of value destruction, poor financial performances and exhibited a lack of strategy.

A spokesman for Oasis said: “Our increased stake demonstrates our deep commitment and belief in the potential of Premier Foods, as well as our belief that, under a different CEO, the company will be in a better position finally to capitalise on its many options for long-term shareholder value creation.

“We have confidence that, at the conclusion of the July 18 AGM, Gavin Darby will no longer be CEO of Premier Foods.”

In 2016, instead of tying up with McCormick, Premier announced a collaboration agreement with Japan’s Nissin, which also took a non-executive position on Premier’s board.

Nissin also became the firm’s largest shareholder with 23%, but it backs Mr Darby.

Those coming out to bat for Mr Darby include shareholder advisory groups ISS, PIRC and Glass Lewis, as well as industry heavyweights Lord MacLaurin and Lord Price – the former chairman of Tesco and ex-managing director of Waitrose respectively.

Premier Foods is also behind Ambrosia custard and Bisto gravy.

Press Association

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