Cantors woos institutions

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The Independent Online
CANTORS, the Sheffield-based furniture retailer, is to grant voting rights to holders of its 'A' shares as part of a new strategy to attract institutional investors. The move was accompanied by a dip in taxable profits from pounds 2.5m to pounds 2.1m for the year to 25 April, on turnover up from pounds 57m to pounds 63m.

Cantors' ordinary share capital currently comprises ordinary and A shares. However, all the voting rights are attached to the ordinary shares, of which about 70 per cent are held by the Cantor family.

However, the enfranchisement plans will put the 'A' shares on an equal footing with ordinary paper. The existing owners of the voting shares will receive new shares in a three-for-two scrip issue, enlarging the company's total equity by 10 per cent.

As a result, the family's voting control in the group will be cut to just over 50 per cent.

Cantors said the plans were aimed at attracting City investors, some of whom are reluctant, as a matter of principle, to invest in companies with a two-tier share structure. The company is also repaying its 100,000 preference shares at face value of pounds 1 each to simplify its capital structure.

Last year's profits fall reflects difficult trading conditions which have continued to depress high street spending. Trading profits slumped from pounds 3.6m to pounds 2.3m and interest costs soared from pounds 93,000 to pounds 295,000. But the slide at the pre-tax level was cushioned by the absence of any exceptional costs - the previous year's result was hit by a pounds 875,000 charge.

Earnings per share fell from 12.7p to 10p. A maintained 3p final dividend leaves the total unchanged at 4p.