Yesterday afternoon (12 December) a chilled and frozen convenience food producer received what it describes as “an indicative offer from a financial buyer,” and while there is no guarantee that agreement will be reached, Perkins could well be the latest in a long line of small food companies in the UK to go private.
Based on the current share value, which rose on news of the buyer’s approach, Perkins is worth around £137m in real terms. In terms of potential this figure is increased dramatically with numerous analysts convinced that the foods sector concentrated on by the company offers considerable growth and market power because retailers are anxious to expand the higher margin end of the business.
The bid could well have come from any of the private equity firms that have expressed interest in the food manufacturing sector, as it has been considered “up for grabs” since the failure of both a management buyout and an outside offer from the Irish foods group Greencore, which valued Perkins at nearly £190m.
Perkins, which is currently expanding its European activities on the continent, posted pre-tax profits of £9m for the six month to the end of June. This represented a 14% increase on last year. For the full year, analysts’ predictions have reached £23.4m, nearly 10% up on 1999.