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Wed 4th Sep 2019 - Fuller’s returning £69m to shareholders following beer business sale, managed like-for-likes up 2.5%, Swaine joins Rank
Fuller’s returning £69m to shareholders following beer business sale, managed like-for-likes up 2.5%, Swaine joins Rank: Fuller’s has revealed plans to return £69m to shareholders following the sale of its beer business to Asahi and reported a “good start” to trading in its new financial year. The company has also announced managing director Jonathon Swaine will depart the business today (Wednesday, 4 September) instead of next month to take up a role with Rank after 14 years at the brewer. Swaine will take over as retail managing director at Rank, replacing Alan Morgan. Fuller’s stated: “Following the sale of the beer business to Asahi Europe, which completed on 27 April, and its agreement to make a £24m voluntary offer to its pensions scheme from the proceeds thereof, the company intends to return a total of approximately £69m of cash to ordinary shareholders, representing a return of 125p per A ordinary share and C ordinary share in the company, and 12.5p per B ordinary share in the company. The board expects the return of capital will be implemented by way of a D share scheme requiring the issue and allotment of a new class of shares by the company to ordinary shareholders in proportion to their existing holding of ordinary shares in the company (taking into account the different economic rights of the ordinary shares). Following the allotment and issue of the D shares, it is expected Numis Securities, or a subsidiary thereof, will make an offer to purchase all the D shares for an amount of 12.5p per D share, free of all expenses and commissions. A circular containing details of the return of capital and notice of an extraordinary general meeting on the company’s shareholders is expected to be posted to shareholders on Friday (6 September) with the general meeting expected to be held on Tuesday, 1 October. It is expected, subject to shareholder approval, completion of the return of capital will take place shortly following the general meeting and settlement will take place in mid-October. The company has made a good start to the new financial year with like-for-like sales in managed pubs and hotels rising 2.5% and like-for-like profits in tenanted inns down 2%, against exceptionally strong trading for the same period last year.” Chief executive Simon Emeny said: “It has been a busy start to the year with the sale of the Fuller’s beer business to Asahi and I am pleased to announce the intention to return approximately £69m to shareholders, which is at the top end of the range indicated in the original circular to shareholders on the disposal of the beer business. We are now focused on driving the performance of our premium pubs and hotels business and, with the addition of our new finance director Adam Councell, the full executive team is in place. I am pleased to see our managed pubs and hotels showing like-for-like growth and, while our like-for-like profits in tenanted inns are down a little on last year, it is important to remember the first half of last year included the halcyon period where sun and sport combined to create perfect pub-going conditions. I look forward to updating the City on our plans and progress in more detail at our half-year results presentation in November.” As well as announcing Swaine’s departure, Fuller’s also announced it had accepted Peter Swinburn’s resignation for health reasons as non-executive director. On the recommendation of the nominations committee, Juliette Stacey has been appointed as senior independent director.


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