Stake building sparks talk of imminent bid at 4imprint

Speculation is rising that that 4imprint, the listed promotional gifts company, is to receive a bid after it emerged that a new investor had taken a 25 per cent stake in the company.

Edward Bramson, together with his US-based investment vehicle Hanover Investors Partners, has been building up a shareholding in the merchandise imprinter in the past few weeks, which has a stock market value of some £20m.

A statement from Hanover Investors late on Friday revealed that Mr Bramson and Hanover now have a 25.4 per cent stake in 4imprint, after Hanover bought up 3 million shares. Mr Bramson was disclosed as owning 4.2 million shares, or 14 per cent of the company. Mr Bramson, speaking from the US, told The Independent: "Don't take this as a prelude to a takeover but all options are open. We want to meet with the company."

A stake of more than 29.9 per cent would force the shareholder to make an offer for the whole company. 4imprint, which makes imprints, marketing and promotional material for many FTSE companies, has been struggling in the past two years from a fall-off in corporate spending budgets. Shares in the company were trading at around 170p before September 11, but have since hit a low of 32.5p. They closed on Friday at 65p.

Mr Bramson said: "They "[4imprint] have had a tough time but things seem to be getting better. This may be an opportunity to participate in that."

The company has an annual turnover of around £96m but last year made a pre-tax loss of £0.1m. It is due to report its interim results tomorrow.

Hanover Investors has been in business since 1976 and provides capital for leveraged buyouts and refinancing.

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