Canadian pension fund The Ontario Teachers Pension Plan is to offload its entire stake in Maple Leaf Foods.
In a joint statement issued yesterday (23 November), the fund, commonly known as Teachers, and Maple Leaf announced a share sales worth C$362.4m.
Teachers is publicly offering its 25.2% stake in Maple Leaf for C$10.50 a share. Maple Leaf’s shares closed at C$12.69 on the Toronto stock exchange yesterday, meaning the fund is selling its shares at a 17% discount.
The fund has been a shareholder in Maple Leaf since 1995 when the McCain family bought the bakery and meat processor. Teachers took a 36.3% stake in the business when it backed the takeover.
However, there has been signs of growing discord between Teachers and Maple Leaf’s management over the direction of the business.
In August, Teachers reduced its stake in Maple Leaf from 36.3% to 25.2% after selling shares to investment manager West Face Capital. At the time, Teachers said its “current intention was to work with [Maple Leaf] to maximise the value of our investment”.
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Two months later, Maple Leaf president and CEO Michael McCain outlined his vision for the future of the business with a five-year plan to make the company more efficient.
McCain said the plan, which included factory closures and the modernisation of some of the company’s manufacturing network, would involve capital investment of C$755m but improve its EBITDA margin from a current level of 7.5% to 12.5% in 2015. The move prompted speculation over what Teachers and West Face would make of the plans.
At the end of last month, Teachers’ two representatives on the Maple Leaf board quit their positions due to disagreement over the company’s planned revamp.
So far, West Face has made no public comment on Maple Leaf’s five-year plan.