Sheaffer battle heads for US court

The battle for Sheaffer, the loss-making American pens business, could come to a US court next week as a UK venture capital company fights it out with Bic, the French giant best known for Biros and disposable razors. Nigel Cope, City Correspondent, reports on a messy affair.

Alchemy, the venture capital company run by Jon Moulton, is hoping to secure an early court hearing in New York to decide who will win control of Sheaffer, one of the world's best-known pen makers.

A hearing is not scheduled until January but Alchemy says Sheaffer's finances are so precarious that a delay would prove damaging to the business. It is keen to decide the matter so improvements can be made in time for the all-important Christmas selling season. It is pushing for a hearing in the Appellant Court in New York as soon as possible.

The court's decision should end a bruising battle between Alchemy and Bic, both of whom feel they have the right to buy Sheaffer. Both are offering around $30m for the business.

Sheaffer certainly needs fresh backing. Though a well-known name it has been loss-making for years and last year lost "several million dollars" on sales of around pounds 35m. It has suffered from lack of product innovation and fierce competition from rivals, particularly Gillette, the razor company which owns the Parker, Watermans and Papermate brands.

The bid battle dates back to last year and focuses on a right of refusal which the Sheaffer management have to buy the company.

Bic made an approach to Genifor, the current owners of Sheaffer, last year. Genifor is a Geneva-based, Luxembourg quoted company with Middle Eastern backing, which paid $135m for Sheaffer 10 years ago.

The talks later broke down and the Sheaffer management, led by ex-Parker Pen executives Owen Jones and Shane Dolohanty, approached Alchemy for funding for a management buy-out. Alchemy then approached Genifor who re-ignited talks with Bic to generate competition. Bic later signed an agreement, for around $30m, with the acknowledgement that management had a right of refusal.

Though Alchemy later said it would exercise that right and match the Bic offer, Bic went to court to block it, saying it was Alchemy that had taken up the right of refusal, not the management.

Martin Bolland of Alchemy expressed confidence yesterday that a hearing would go in its favour. "The first hearing went overwhelming in our favour, then they appealed," he said

If Alchemy's management buy-out team wins the legal fight, it says it will revitalise Sheaffer by investing in new product development.

It would be pleasing deal for Jon Moulton, who backed the buy-out of Parker Pen from Manpower when he was at Schroder Ventures.

Parker Pen's middle management team then included Mr Jones and Mr Dolohanty, who are now respectively the chief executive an chief financial officer of Sheaffer.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Carlton Senior Appointments: Private Banking Manager - Intl Bank - Los Angeles

$200 - $350 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: Managing Producer – Office...

Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advisor – Ind Advisory Firm

$125 - $225 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advi...

Sheridan Maine: Commercial Finance Manager

Up to £70,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

Sheridan Maine: Regulatory Reporting Accountant

Up to £65,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas