US fund in Hillsdown bid

HILLSDOWN HOLDINGS appeared to be heading for break-up yesterday when the Typhoo tea and Chivers Hartley jams group said it had received several approaches that could lead to a pounds 430m bid for the company.

It is understood that the most likely buyer is Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst, the American leveraged buy-out fund whose protracted talks with Pearson to buy part of Simon & Schuster business collapsed earlier this year. Its offer is likely to be pitched at around 120p per share, giving Hillsdown an enterprise value, including debt, of over pounds 500m. The shares closed 26p higher at 112.5p yesterday, a rise of 30 per cent.

There are other bidders looking at the company but it is understood that Hicks, Muse is the lead buyer and that talks are at an advanced stage. Hicks Muse would only be interested in certain parts of Hillsdown, such as its successful canning business and the Christie Tyler furniture operation. The rest, such as poultry and biscuits, is likely to be sold.

Hillsdown said it would issue another statement in due course on the approaches but it is thought it that the company would find it difficult to fight a bid. Large parts of its stock are held by US arbitrageurs which have used stock loaning procedures to ensure they do not appear on the share register. It is thought they will sell out to the highest bidder. It would not be the first time Hillsdown has been the subject of a break- up bid. Last year Unigate made an approach regarding a possible pounds 1.6bn takeover but walked away at the last minute.

Hillsdown pressed ahead with a demerger strategy instead, spinning off Fairview Homes and Terranova Foods, its chilled Foods operation which succumbed to a pounds 274m hostile bid from Unigate last month.

It also announced its intention to sell its poultry, wines and spirits, continental biscuits, furniture and potato operations. However, initial indications of interest in the furniture and potato businesses failed to be converted into firm offers and the sale was pulled. The delay in the proposed sales meant the company was unable to return cash to shareholders as previously planned.

Hillsdown did manage to sell its high margin poultry business Ross Breeders for pounds 100m in December. It also sold its continental biscuits business for pounds 42m in February and recently sold its Dutch canning operations for pounds 25. Gearing is currently around 80 per cent.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Neil Pavier: Management Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you looking for your next opportunity for ...

Sheridan Maine: Commercial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ACA/ACCA/ACMA qua...

Laura Norton: Project Accountant

£50,000 - £60,000: Laura Norton: Are you looking for an opportunity within a w...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?