The Investment Column: Hungry predator may find United Biscuits a tasty bite
Friday 10 September 1999
With the troublesome Keebler business in the US long gone - its value has since soared - and the Young's frozen-food operation hived off into a joint venture, there's only one non-core business left to go. That's the chilled and frozen operation, valued at pounds 250m. A deal should be finalised in the next few weeks. Unigate and Hicks, Muse are tipped as possible buyers.
This will leave United Biscuits focused on biscuits and snacks where new chief executive Leslie Van del Walle has big plans. He admits that a 23 per cent crumble in half-year pre-exceptional profits to pounds 40m is unacceptable.
The dioxin food scare in Belgium, fall-out from the US trade war and heavy exceptional charges on disposals helped pushed the group to a pounds 13m loss.
Mr del Walle has a cost-cutting programme, which will include the merger of the snacks and McVitie's biscuits operations. An additional pounds 30m is to be spent marketing top brands such as Penguin, Homewheat and Hob Nobs, which have been growing sales at 11 per cent.
The drag remains the long tail of secondary brands and own-label biscuits and crisps, which are being hammered by rivals such as Walkers.
UB faces a long haul back to financial respectability. The increasingly powerful supermarkets are sure to keep pressure on its margins.
On ABN Amro's reduced full-year profit forecast of pounds 100m the shares - down 5.5p at 188p - trade on an unexciting forward multiple of 12. With a bid possible, the shares are a hold.
Jeremy Paxman reveals he has heard senior Tories calling activists 'swivel-eyed loons'
Gay couple beaten in park urge MPs to moderate language on gay marriage
Strewth mate. Aussies wave goodbye to Britain as it becomes too pricey to stay
X marks the spot: The find that could rewrite Australian history
Oklahoma tornado latest: Obama pledges support for 'as long as it takes' to rebuild the suburb of Moore
- 1 'He was lucky he didn't die' - George Michael fell out of speeding car onto M1 motorway, according to eye witness
- 2 Austerity has hardened the nation's heart
- 3 Gay couple beaten in park urge MPs to moderate language on gay marriage
- 4 X marks the spot: The find that could rewrite Australian history
- 5 'It was just like the movie Twister': Man survives Oklahoma tornado by taking refuge in horse stall
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.
iJobs Money & Business
£850 - £1000 per day: Orgtel: Programme Change Manager - Banking - London - £8...
£180 - £230 per day: Orgtel: Operations Analyst - Leading Bank in the City of ...
£500 per day: Orgtel: A top tier banking client urgently requires Finance Busi...
£425 - £550 per day: Orgtel: Senior Finance Project Manager - £550 - Bristol -...