Uniq to sell profitable businesses

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The Independent Online

The convenience food group, Uniq, surprised investors by unveiling plans to sell off the most cash generative and profitable part of its business yesterday, saying it would use the proceeds to pay down its sizeable pension deficit and borrowings.

The company hopes to receive in excess of £200m for its Belgian salad and French spreads businesses - which would provide enough to pay down the £97m UK pension deficit, and wipe out its £95m of borrowing. Uniq hopes the sales will also provide spare capital with which to grow the business.

Announcing its full-year results - including an anticipated 80 per cent fall in pre-tax profits - Geoff Eaton, the chief executive, claimed the strategy would put Uniq back on a firm footing, allowing it to focus on revitalising its poorer performing divisions. Mr Eaton, who was parachuted in 10 months ago to rescue the ailing group, stressed the business would be in good shape if it received a good price for the divisions.

Shares in Uniq closed unchanged at 130p, giving it a market value of a little less than £150m.