The battle for control of Eddie Stobart Logistics (ESL) has pitted the son of its founder against his former brother-in-law. William Stobart, son of 90-year-old Eddie, is backing a £55m rescue deal launched by secretive private equity firm Dbay Advisors to save the troubled haulier. But Andrew Tinkler, who was the firm’s chief executive until 2014, wants to be reinstated as boss and lead his own £80m deal to bring the lorry firm back from the brink of collapse. The pair, who were previously married to sisters but have both since divorced, locked horns yesterday as the battle turned increasingly acrimonious. Tinkler, 56, talked down Dbay’s plans as ‘hypocritical’ and said his own offer for Eddie Stobart was ‘materially better on multiple fronts’ for the company’s shareholders and other stakeholders. In a sign of the increasingly bitter rivalry between himself and 58-year-old Stobart, he also reported Dbay to the Takeover Panel in an attempt to prevent the firm – which is Eddie Stobart’s biggest shareholder – voting on its own rescue bid. Dbay, which if successful is planning to reinstate William Stobart as executive chairman, hit back, claiming Tinkler had been ‘unable or unwilling to submit any concrete workable alternative so far’.
The BT Group (BT.A) chief executive’s £8m pay package could be slashed in a major overhaul. The amount 52-year-old Philip Jansen can receive at the telecoms group is dictated by a 2017 regime that includes performance-related share payouts. But this could be replaced with a restricted shares scheme that pays out less, a company spokesman confirmed. At the moment Jansen’s annual package can reach a maximum of £8.3m. This includes a £1.1m salary, an annual bonus of up to 240% of that, an incentive share plan (ISP) bonus worth up to 400% and pension contributions worth 15%. Based on his salary, which was fixed for five years on his appointment in February, the ISP figure is capped at £4.4m. It is paid in shares, with the total based on three years’ performance, and they must be held for a further two years after they have vested.
Shares in Ted Baker (TED) have tumbled to their lowest in a decade after the fashion brand said it had overstated the value of its inventory and called in independent lawyers and accountants to investigate the issue. Ted Baker, which warned on profits again in October and ousted its founder Ray Kelvin after improper behaviour earlier this year, said it was likely to have overstated its inventory by £20-25million, but insisted it will have cash to cushion the impact. ‘Discovering that the value of inventory on its balance sheet has been overstated suggests that the business hasn’t got a grip on its numbers which is a bit worrying considering that new chief executive Lindsay Page used to be the finance director,’ said AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould. ‘Amid all the chaos around inappropriate behaviour from its founder Ray Kelvin and the subsequent profit warnings around margin pressures, tough competition and weak consumer spending, it now appears that Ted Baker has found another banana to slip up on.’
One of Just Eat’s leading investors has said it will only consider a hostile bid for the food delivery business if the offer is raised by nearly £1.5 billion. Cat Rock Capital claimed Prosus ‘cannot justify’ its offer of 710p per share for Just Eat (JE.) and that it would refuse to settle for less than 925p, an increase that would take the value of the proposed takeover from £4.85 billion to £6.32 billion. Cat Rock issued the warning in an open letter to other shareholders yesterday, in which it also underlined its continued support for a proposed merger of Just Eat with Dutch rival Takeaway that is backed by Just Eat’s board. Prosus has urged shareholders to reject the merger and claims it could result in a lack of investment needed to fight off competitors in the fast-growing food delivery sector.
Ocado Group (OCDO) surprised the City today with an announcement that it is looking to raise £500million via a convertible bond offering. The logistics and tech firm better known in the UK as an online supermarket only last week announced it struck a deal with a Japanese supermarket Aeon. Ocado said the proceeds of the bond issue would be used to fund the construction of new robotic warehouses. Bondholders will receive between 0.75% and 1.25% interest per year and are set to be paid in full in 2025. ‘The net proceeds of the issue of the bonds will be used to fund capital expenditure in relation to Ocado Solutions’ commitments and general corporate purposes,’ Ocado said.
Sirius Minerals (SXX) shares slid despite an upbeat broker note from house broker Shore Capital. In an analysis of Sirius’s latest restructuring plan, Shore said the company could get by with raising £310m, rather than the previously mooted £460m, to finish its fertiliser mine under the North York Moors.