Kenwood chief unloads shares to pay debts: Profits rise pushes price higher

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TIM PARKER, the chief executive of the electrical kitchenware maker Kenwood Appliances, has sold one-third of his shares in the business to pay off personal debts.

Some 400,000 shares - more than 1 per cent of the total equity - have been sold by a group of eight senior managers including Mr Parker and the finance director, Tim Beech. The total cash raised is pounds 1.25m, of which Mr Parker's share is about pounds 560,000.

Mr Parker said most of the money would be used to pay a capital gains tax bill incurred when Kenwood was floated in June 1992.

He said the timing of the sale was controlled by his personal financial position. He said the sale was intended to give no message to shareholders of his view of the value of the shares, and stressed that he continued to hold a stake in the company.

The shares were placed at 316p. Helped by good interim profits figures - rather than being discouraged by the directors' shares sales - the market price rose 3p yesterday to close at 328p.

Results published yesterday for the six months to 30 September showed a 21 per cent increase in turnover and a 15 per cent rise in operating profits.

Mr Parker said sales and profits had risen on the back of an 'uneven' recovery in UK consumer spending after two flat years. Early indications on activity in the run-up to Christmas were also good, he said. Sales of food processors and the company's flaghip product, the Kenwood Chef mixer, are particularly strong.

UK sales were 12 per cent ahead. Sterling's devaluation on exit from the exchange rate mechanism helped exports, a business segment where Kenwood was already concentrating efforts. Two-thirds of Kenwood's product is sold outside the UK.

Pre-tax profits expanded by 37 per cent to pounds 5.35m, but the figure was flattered by a much-reduced interest charge. The flotation paid off pounds 40m of debt, and Kenwood's interest bill fell to pounds 332,000, compared with pounds 1.4m.

Kenwood incurred a pounds 400,000 exceptional charge reorganising its distribution arrangements in Germany and North America. It has set up a sales subsidiary in Germany and closed a similar operation in the US.

Mr Parker said the move was intended to free management time and capital resources to develop more promising European and Far Eastern markets.

Earnings per share were 9.6p, up from 9.2p. Ignoring the exceptional reorganisation cost, earnings were 10.7p. The half-time dividend is 3p, compared with 1.5p.

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