Thompson to run Usborne

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The Independent Online
David Thompson, a founder director of the food manufacturer Hillsdown Holdings, has taken control of Usborne, the troubled grain trader and pig breeder, writes Robert Cole.

Mr Thompson has bought a 36 per cent shareholding in Usborne, raising his interest from 14 per cent to just over 50 per cent.

Trading in Usborne's shares was suspended at 19.5p last week when the company said that problems in its pig-breeding busines would push the group into loss for the half-year to 31 December.

Mr Thompson has paid David Frame, the chief executive, 5p a share and has to make the same offer to all shareholders because he has raised his holding above 30 per cent. The offer values Usborne at pounds 4.6m.

Mr Frame has received pounds 1.65m through the deal and will remain chief executive. Lord Parkinson, the former Conservative cabinet minister, also remains as non- executive chairman.

As well as becoming the group's biggest shareholder, Mr Thompson has made a pounds 10m loan facility available to Usborne. Richard Endacott, finance director, said that the loan facility was equal to the company's bank borrowings.