Parker Pen sold for pounds 285m after hunt for buyer

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The Independent Online
THIRTY top executives of Parker Pen are to share about pounds 90m following the sale of the writing products company to Gillette for pounds 285m.

The deal marks the end of a long search by Parker for a new owner and will make its senior managers multi-millionaries. They invested a total pounds 300,000 in a pounds 35m management buyout about six years ago.

The company, set up by a Wisconsin schoolteacher in 1888, has already repaid their original investment several times over in annual dividends. Now the executives are cashing in their total 31 per cent stake with Parker's sale to the razors and deodorants giant.

The biggest individual beneficiary among the management is Jacques Margry, Parker's French chairman, whose personal stake is thought to be around 10 per cent.

Institutional investors in the group include Schroder Ventures, which also owns 31 per cent, and Electra and Chemical Equity, each with 10 per cent. The Parker family owns another 16 per cent.

Since the buyout, however, the investors have made several unsuccessful attempts to realise their shareholdings. Two years after the MBO, Parker tried twice to float itself on the stock market, and failed because of the October 1987 crash and a market dip in the following year.

A pounds 180m takeover by Pentland, the Adidas sports shoe company, fell through in 1988 when the two sides could not agree on the details of the proposed deal.

About six months ago Parker was put up for sale. An international auction masterminded by Schroders, the merchant bank, led to yesterday's move.

The two sides have signed a legal agreement and the deal will go through once regulatory approvals have been given.

Back in 1986, the group was losing about pounds 10m a year, but has since made a strong recovery. Taxable profits jumped from pounds 20.6m in 1990 to pounds 29.5m for the year ended 28 February, on turnover of about pounds 181m.

Gillette is buying Parker because it adds a strong brand to its existing portfolio of assets in the sector. These include Paper Mate and Watermans.