Oasis stirs Premier Foods row with Batchelors soup demand

LONDON: Premier Foods investor Oasis Management called for the British canned foods maker to sell its well-known Batchelors Soup brand to improve its financial outlook and create funds for investment.
The Oasis call was rejected by Premier, which said it would not sell one of its “jewels”, in the latest twist in a proxy fight which has erupted ahead of its annual general meeting of shareholders scheduled for later this month.
Premier’s board said in an earlier statement it had the backing of a third influential shareholder advisory firm to reappoint chief executive Gavin Darby, who Oasis wants fired.
The Hong Kong-based investor said that even on conservative assumptions, selling Batchelors would generate £200 million ($265 million) in proceeds, or more than 60 per cent of the company’s current market capitalisation.
“Selling Batchelors would put Premier Foods on a solid footing and strengthen the Company for the benefit of all of its key stakeholders including staff, pension scheme members and shareholders in one single swoop,” Oasis said in a statement.
“Oasis does not seek for any of the proceeds to be directly returned to shareholders but instead be used to de-risk the company and improve its business and long-term prospects.” — Reuters