Berisford aims for change with purchase

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The Independent Online
A LONG-AWAITED acquisition by Berisford International, the promised first step in a new strategy, should be announced early in the new year, writes Russell Hotten.

Alan Bowkett, the chief executive who lost a pounds 184m battle for the shoe maker C&J Clark in May, is planning the purchase of a manufacturing company funded by the issue of new shares.

He described the acquisition as substantial, adding that the target was larger than Berisford, which is valued at more than pounds 105m. The news came as the company reported a cut in pre-tax losses in the year to 30 September from pounds 65m to pounds 5m.

Mr Bowkett wants to transform Berisford, virtually a shell company with small property and commodities interests, into an industrial business. Any buy is likely to be in engineering or building products.

Disposals during the year generated pounds 34.8m. Net cash was pounds 3.5m, compared with net debt of pounds 15m last time. Turnover was pounds 72.3m, down from pounds 130.5m. Continuing operations made trading losses of pounds 1.3m. Shares rose 5p to 111p.