Unigate acquires Glass Glover

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The Independent Online
UNIGATE is paying pounds 54m to acquire Glass Glover Group, the Doncaster-based contract warehousing and distribution company that had been planning a stock market flotation following a management buyout in 1988.

At the same time Unigate, which on Friday announced a recommended offer of pounds 50.4m for Clifford Foods, the dairy and fruit juice group, is considering a US flotation of its US restaurant businesses.

Sally Jones of the stockbroker Panmure Gordon expects the US restaurants to make profits of pounds 15.5m in the year to March. Although Unigate has not decided how much of the business will be floated, US earnings multiples for equivalent operations range up to 20, implying a valuation of between pounds 150m and pounds 200m.

Glass Glover made operating profits of pounds 5.5m on sales of pounds 85m in the year to last September. Customers include J Sainsbury, Argyll Lo Cost and Gateway. Unigate's pounds 210m-a-year Wincanton distribution business deals with Tesco, Asda and Argyll Safeway.

Mr Buckland said Unigate's gearing would jump to between 60 and 65 per cent after taking account of the recent pounds 17m proposed purchases of dairies from the CWS and goodwill write-offs arising from Glass Glover's low net asset value of pounds 5.47m. But he insisted that a rights issue was not part of Unigate's plans.

Unigate shares rose 15p to 357p.