Premier Foods hires advisers as Mr Kipling firm explores break-up

Mr Kipling cakes firm Premier Foods is expected to press ahead with a break-up of the group in the coming months, it can be revealed.

The Press Association understands that the company, which has been under pressure from activist investors, has hired bankers at boutique advisory firm d’Angelin & Co to help manage the process.

In February, Premier launched a strategic review, bowing to pressure from investors Oasis and Paulson, who own more than 20% of the group and had called for a radical shake-up.

Insiders believe that, while all options are on the table, including a sale, a break-up is now the most likely.

Premier is also behind custard brand Ambrosia, Batchelors soups, Bisto gravy and Oxo cubes.

It is understood that d’Angelin’s involvement is at the behest of Paulson, which recently gained a seat on the food firm’s board.

Premier has a market capitalisation of around £300 million but any break-up or sale would be complicated by its large-scale pension liabilities and £500 million debt pile.

The activists scored a victory in November when chief executive Gavin Darby said he would stand down following criticism from Oasis.

The group had been critical of his strategy, in particular when he oversaw the successful defence of a 60p-per-share takeover tilt from McCormick in 2016.

Shares are currently trading at around 35p.

Instead of tying up with McCormick, Premier in that year announced a collaboration agreement with Japan’s Nissin Foods.

Premier has also recently scrapped plans to sell off Ambrosia, blaming the current business climate, and last year abandoned the sale of its fast-growing Batchelors brand.

Both could again be put up for sale as part of a break-up.

Premier said in February that Daniel Wosner and Orkun Kilic – from Oasis and Paulson respectively – will join the board as non-executive directors, along with Simon Bentley.

Chief financial officer Alastair Murray is acting as interim boss while the hunt for a permanent successor to Mr Darby continues.

- Press Association

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