Hobson agrees pounds 121m bid from Hillsdown

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The Independent Online
Andrew Regan will today celebrate his 30th birthday as a self-made multi- millionaire after agreeing yesterday to a pounds 121m bid from Hillsdown Holdings for Hobson, the company he has transformed in just two years from being a supplier of condoms to Nigeria into a food manufacturing business.

He owns 10 million shares and has options at 27p each on a further 3 million. Hillsdown's cash offer is pitched at 31p a share, tipping a total of pounds 3.22m into his bank account before the customary letter from Her Majesty's Inspector of Taxes lands on the doormat.

Mr Regan, chief executive and son of Bill Regan, the company doctor drafted into Spring Ram, is also on a two-year contract, paying a basic pounds 153,000 annually and providing the chance to earn a 100 per cent bonus. However, neither Mr Regan nor other directors have yet negotiated compensation deals with Hillsdown.

"No packages have been agreed with executive directors, because I wanted them to make a decision on the takeover offer on behalf of shareholders and not for themselves," he said.

He has no intention of swanning off, but intends to get back into business as soon as possible. "People have asked me where's this money going to get me. I've told them it's all going back on risk. Of course I am going to carry on," he said.

A friend of Mr Regan said he would not be surprised if he launched himself at another quoted company. Before Hillsdown came on the scene, Hobson had run the slide rule over dozens of potential targets.

Hobson has held protracted negotiations with Hillsdown for several months.

For its money, Hillsdown will be getting a company largely built up through acquisitions. Deals under the stewardship of David Wigglesworth, chairman, and Mr Regan, chief executive, notably include last year's pounds 111m purchase of the food manufacturing arm of the Co-operative Wholesale Society.

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