Crest float will make buyout team a fortune: Directors to sell pounds 12.5m worth of shares

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The Independent Online
RODNEY WEBB, managing director of Crest Packaging, is poised to become one of Britain's richest businessmen following its flotation at an expected market value of about pounds 50m.

Eight years ago Mr Webb and three directors led a managing buyout of the company for an undisclosed sum - thought to be less than pounds 5m. They are now set to cash in about a quarter of their shareholding for about pounds 12.5m via a share placing sponsored by SG Warburg, the merchant bank.

The bulk of the money will be pocketed by Mr Webb, whose remaining stake in Crest will amount to about 65 per cent - worth pounds 33m - after its launch.

Crest, bought out from Bowater, manufactures flexible and carton packaging for consumer products. Its customers include Brooke Bond, Nestle and Batchelors soups.

Taxable profits have increased from pounds 1.9m in 1991 to pounds 4.9m in the year ended 30 April on a small rise in turnover to pounds 42m.

Crest said its sales growth over the period had been restricted by a fall in packaging prices, the recession and some production capacity constraints.

About 60 per cent of its sales are derived from the food and drinks industry, 12 per cent from paper products and the balance from the medical sector.

Exports accounted for 17 per cent of turnover last year.

In 1991 the company sold an eight-acre site for a pounds 12.7m profit, enabling it to pay off debts and accelerate a capital expenditure programme. At 30 September net cash was pounds 10m.

The company, which yesterday published a pathfinder prospectus, is coming to the market to boost its profile and facilitate acquisitions.

Its shares will be priced on 28 October and dealings are expected to begin on 4 November.