Charterhouse spreads to Swedish sandwich

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The Independent Online
ROYAL Bank of Scotland's development capital arm, Charterhouse, has paid 650m Swedish kronor (pounds 60m) for one of Scandinavia's largest food groups, writes Russell Hotten.

The purchase of Sardus, Sweden's market leader in the supply of sandwich spreads and toppings to supermarkets, is part of a growing trend among overseas investors in Sweden.

Sweden's financial crisis, brought on by the property market collapse, has attracted the attention of investors looking for cheap deals. Charterhouse recently bought Metric Group, a manufacturer of electro-mechanical products.

Sardus has been sold by AB Custos, a large institutional investor and the main shareholder in SE Banken, the biggest bank in Sweden. Volvo, the Swedish vehicle maker, and Skanska, a construction company, each own about 26 per cent of Custos.

Niklas Midby, a Charterhouse director, called the deal one of the largest in Sweden this year. He said there were plans to bring Sardus to the Stockholm stock exchange within the next two to three years.

'We see Sardus as a very profitable business with a good market position in Sweden. We think that can be developed well over the next few years.' That is likely to include expansion of Sardus's small export market.

Sardus had a turnover of Skr800m last year, and made profits of Skr91m after depreciation. In 1992 Custos made a pre-tax loss of Skr398m. As of 5 May this year the company's net worth was Skr80 per share, against Skr73 at the end of 1992.

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