Exchange to probe Allied share deals

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The Independent Online
THE STOCK EXCHANGE is to examine trading in Allied-Lyons shares prior to the leak of the food and drinks group's pounds 200m convertible bond issue, launched yesterday.

Tony Pratt, head of corporate affairs at Allied, said the company was concerned about the apparent leak, which sparked stories predicting an issue in last Sunday's newspapers.

'Clearly we will be looking at the procedures used and the rest of the circumstances surrounding the preparations for the issue,' he added.

The issue is being led by Credit Suisse, with Cazenove and S G Warburg as co-lead managers. Mr Pratt said the proceeds would be used to replace short-term bank borrowings.

The official announcement of the fund-raising exercise followed the release of Allied's annual results on Tuesday. The company reported a pounds 10m rise in pre-tax profits to pounds 620m.

Mr Pratt said the bond issue was not launched on the same day as the annual results to give investors a chance to assess them, especially as they were complicated by the new FRS3 accounting standard.

He added that the issue was not connected to Allied's purchase of Seagram's Perrier-Jouet Barton & Guestier drinks distribution business.

'That deal won't be completed for a while yet,' he said. Allied has agreed not to disclose the price it is paying but analysts estimate the figure to be around pounds 100m. The deal does not involve the Perrier-Jouet champagne business.

The bonds will have a conversion price of 622p, giving a 17 per cent premium to yesterday's closing price of 531p, down 12p. They can be called at par on 21 July 1998. A coupon of 63 4 per cent is payable twice a year.