Body Shop admits talks on buy-back

Private plans: Analysts confused over Anita and Gordon Roddick's reported move to regain control

NIGEL COPE

Body Shop International, the environmentally conscious retail group, admitted last night that it has held talks with founders Anita and Gordon Roddick over a plan by them to take the company back into private ownership.

However, the board said the Roddicks had made it clear that no such proposal by them is expected to be made in the near future, if at all.

One retail analyst said last night: "It's a bit of a mess. It seems the Roddicks have expressed an interest and then backed off." The Roddicks, who own 24 per cent of the group, were believed to be in advanced talks with bankers to raise funds for a bid that would give them back control. The move would have created a company able to make more donations to charitable causes.

Morgan Stanley, the investment bank which is advising the Roddicks, declined to comment yesterday. However, it is understood that the Roddicks were prepared to offer less than 200p compared with yesterday's closing price of 156p, up 21p. An offer at 175p would value the company at pounds 332m.

The offer was due to be launched two weeks ago along with the company's interim results but was delayed by problems raising sufficient funding.

Body Shop issued a statement yesterday saying it had not received a proposal from the Roddicks to take the company private. It said the Roddicks had advised the board that no such proposal by them is expected to be made in the future, if at all.

However, the company admitted that preliminary discussions on a share buy-back had taken place.

The company's handling of the Roddick proposal met with an angry reaction in the City, which criticised the group for failing to supply investors with sufficient information.

One institutional investor said: "It is not very satisfactory and we are not very happy. We have so far heard nothing from the company but are expecting to be contacted today. We do not feel shareholders have sufficient information to make an informed judgement."

The speculation also surprised City analysts, who felt that Body Shop was adapting to life as a public company. It has appointed new non-executive directors and made other management changes.

The speculation over the future ownership of the company comes at an awkward time for the group. It has been experiencing difficult trading in the US due to fierce competition. Last month Body Shop announced a 26 per cent drop in profits to pounds 9m in the six months to August. The US business slumped into a pounds 2.4m loss. John Richards, stores analyst at NatWest Securities, said: "If this time next year the American business is still causing problems then this could mean store closures and write-offs. That would make 175p appear quite a good offer. But if the performance there does not improve then it might look cheap."

Two other companies also announced plans to return to the private sector yesterday. Le Creuset, the manufacturer of upmarket saucepans, said the chairman, Paul van Zuydam, was seeking funding to buy out the interest of minority shareholders. Mr van Zuydam already controls 74 per cent of the company.

Explaining its decision the company said it did not feel it had derived any benefits from its USM listing since 1989. With the USM set to disappear by the end of next year, the board had decided its interest would not be best served by moving up to the main market or by listing on the new alternative investment market.

Frank G Gates, the car dealership, said it was considering returning the company to private control.

Comment, page 21

From private to public and back again

Succeeded

Virgin (Richard Branson) Buy-back price 140p in 1988. Float price 140p in 1986. Branson claimed City undervalued the company

Really Useful Group (Andrew Lloyd-Webber) Buy-back price 233p in 1990 - more than double 1986 float price

Failed

Amstrad (Alan Sugar) Buy-back price 30p in 1992. Price now 291.5p

Chrysalis Records (Chris Wright) Buy back failed. Sold to Thorn-EMI for pounds 63m in 1991

Telegraph Group (Conrad Black) Buy-back price 460p in 1995. Price now 411p

Pending

Body Shop (Anita Roddick) Estimated buy-back price 200p.Price now 156p

Le Creuset(Paul van Zuydam) Buy-back price not decided. Current price 177p

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright and Bianca Miller in the final of The Apprentice
tvMark Wright and Bianca Miller fight for Lord Sugar's investment
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor winner Ben Haenow has scored his first Christmas number one
music
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
News
i100
Extras
indybest
News
peopleLiam Williams posted photo of himself dressed as Wilfried Bony
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice finalists Mark Wright and Bianca Miller
tvBut who should win The Apprentice?
News
The monkey made several attempts to revive his friend before he regained consciousness
video
Extras
indybest
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Carlton Senior Appointments: Private Banking Manager - Intl Bank - Los Angeles

$200 - $350 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: Managing Producer – Office...

Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advisor – Ind Advisory Firm

$125 - $225 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advi...

Sheridan Maine: Commercial Finance Manager

Up to £70,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

Sheridan Maine: Regulatory Reporting Accountant

Up to £65,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick