January 15, 2018 / 11:10 AM / 2 years ago

Premier Foods plays down Batchelors sale talk

LONDON (Reuters) - Premier Foods (PFD.L) said on Monday any talks it has had with third parties as part of a business review had not yet gone beyond “an exploratory stage”, playing down talk of a possible sale of its Batchelors noodles to Nissin Foods Holdings (9066.T).

The statement followed a weekend report in the UK’s Times newspaper saying Premier was in talks to sell Batchelors, valued at more than 200 million pounds ($276.4 million) to Nissin, which is its largest shareholder with a nearly 20 percent stake.

“The board continues to keep under review any options which could potentially add value for shareholders and other stakeholders, and accelerate the delivery of the board’s strategic objectives, particularly with respect to reducing gearing,” Premier Foods said in its statement.

The company, which also makes Oxo stock cubes and Mr Kipling cakes, said it had not changed a strategy it outlined in May, which includes reducing its ratio of debt to earnings to below three times.

In June, the company said it was exploring options as part of a regular review into maximizing shareholder value, in line with good corporate governance.

Premier said on Monday that such reviews do periodically involve talks with third parties, including Nissin.

Reporting by Martinne Geller and James Davey, editing by Gareth Jones

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