Profits warning adds to pension fund woes at Uniq
Susie Mesure writes interviews, news and features for the Independent on Sunday, Independent and i, and has done for the last ten years or so give or take two lengthy maternity leaves. She is interested in just about any topic, especially anything Scandinavian, food, or consumer-orientated, and used to be the Independent’s Retail Correspondent
Saturday 12 February 2005
Just one of at least three previous bidders is still in takeover talks with Uniq, the chilled foods group admitted as it surprised investors with a profits warning just four weeks after it last updated the market.
Shares in the company fell 7 per cent to 162p after analysts cut their pre-tax profit forecasts for next year and predicted that the remaining bidder would slash its offer price to as little as 180p per share.
Duke Street Capital, the private equity group that owns a 6.5 per cent stake in Uniq, was one of the parties to have shelved their plans to bid for the company, industry sources said. Uniq's pension fund trustees are thought to have told Duke Street that its proposal was too highly leveraged, putting the continued funding of the pension fund scheme at threat.
Uniq warned that although it was still talking to one potential bidder - thought to be American International Group's private equity arm CapVest Equity - it was struggling to breach an impasse over how the bidder would fund its pension fund deficit. It said it had "not yet been possible to resolve the issues surrounding the leveraged nature of the potential bidder's proposed capital structure in the context of the pension scheme liabilities".
Last year, Permira's bid for WH Smith collapsed after it failed to reach an agreement with the trustees of the retailer's underfunded pension scheme. Philip Green also clashed with trustees of Marks & Spencer's pension fund during his attempts to bid for the retailer.
Uniq said it would step up its cash contributions to its pension fund in an attempt to plug the deficit. It will pay an extra pounds 80m over the next 12 years into the scheme on top of its existing annual contributions of pounds 4.2m. More of the fund is to be invested in bonds than before, it said.
Separately, Uniq revealed that the prospects for trading in the UK, where it makes chilled desserts and sandwiches for most of the big supermarket groups, had sharply deteriorated. It said an "increasingly tough market place" would "impact materially" on group profit expectations.
Analysts cut their pre-tax profit forecasts for the year to March 2006 by about 18 per cent to pounds 23m. One analyst said: "An eye off the ball is probably part of the problem but the retailers are getting more and more cheeky in asking for discounts."
The group has suffered from its limited exposure to Tesco - the only part of the supermarket sector that is growing.
- 1 Game of Thrones season 6: Jon Snow theorists believe Ned Stark's son may have a twin sister
- 2 Artist takes LSD, draws herself over different stages of the 9-hour trip to show its effects
- 3 Miley Cyrus address Robin Thicke VMA controversy: ‘He wanted me as naked as possible, but I got the heat because I’m a woman’
- 4 iPhone 6s camera: features to include 4K video camera and flash for selfies
- 5 A pint of water every day is the key to losing weight, scientists say
Miley Cyrus address Robin Thicke VMA controversy: ‘He wanted me as naked as possible, but I got the heat because I’m a woman’
Most expensive city to live in for expatriates: Luanda, Angola takes number one spot with Hong Kong and Zurich in top three
Irish tourist filmed fighting with shopkeepers in Turkey says they 'messed with the wrong man'
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal get peerages
Moody neurotics are more likely to be creative geniuses, study says
Dresden riots: Protesters in Germany attack refugee buses shouting 'foreigners out'
France train shooting: US soldiers speak of the moment they stopped gunman and 'beat him until he was unconscious'
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
iJobs Money & Business
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...
£15000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...