Kingfisher and Asda pay pounds 72m in merger costs

KINGFISHER AND Asda yesterday revealed that the costs of their planned pounds 18bn merger will be pounds 72m of which almost pounds 30m will be paid to advisers. The lion's share of the fees will be paid to Warburg Dillon Read, which acted for Kingfisher and Merrill Lynch and Cazenove which acted for Asda. The details were included in the merger document which was posted to shareholders yesterday.

With Asda also reporting a buoyant set of full year results yesterday showing strong sales and profits growth, Allan Leighton, Asda's chief executive said major shareholders were now "on side" about the deal.

However, one senior fund manager said the terms of the deal for Asda shareholders were poor. "The terms are not overly generous ... We might make a fuss but we can at least see some logic in the deal."

The merger document showed that Kingfisher's director will be very much in the driving seat. In addition to Sir Geoff Mulcahy who will be chief executive of the combined group with Mr Leighton as deputy, four of the remaining six executive directors are drawn from the Kingfisher board with just two from Asda. Philip Rowley, Kingfisher's finance director will take the finance role in the enlarged company having no place on the main board for Asda's Philip Cox. But Kingfisher said the Asda team would remain in place on the Asda operating board.

Asda's results showed a 4.4 per cent increase in full year profits to pounds 423m. Asda's market share is at a record 12.5 per cent with the Roll- Back programme of lower prices driving underlying sales up by over 5 per cent in the second half. In non-food, sales of the George clothing brand rose by 15.3 per cent in a falling market.

Asda said its first Asda@ Home warehouse store in Croydon is taking 150 orders a day against a break-even target of 500. Another site will open in Watford in September with two others in London next spring.

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