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Takeover bid

Thorntons shares rise following Ferrero’s offer to buy UK chocolate specialists

THORTONS shares rose more than 42 per cent after this morning’s announcement that Italian chocolate makers Ferrero International have made a bid for the firm.

The cash offer of 145p per share valued the Debyshire-based confectionery specialists at £112million, and represented a premium of 42.9 per cent on the closing price on Friday, according to a statement from Thorntons today (June 22).
The move is the first acquisition by Ferrero, and comes four months after the death of 89-year-old billionaire Michele Ferero, who built his father’s company up to become Italy’s richest man.
Thorntons have urged shareholders to back the offer with chairman Paul Wilkinson stating: “Ferrero is offering our shareholders an attractive premium to the average price of Thorntons’ shares over the last three months.
“Although the prospects for Thorntons as an independent company remain strong as the company embarks on the next phase of its strategy, the board of Thorntons also recognises the potential benefits to the brand and the business, including employees and all stakeholders from combining with the Ferrero Group.
“Ferrero is a successful global confectionery business with a strong family heritage and as such represents a good cultural fit for Thorntons. The board of Thorntons therefore has given its unanimous recommendation for the offer from Ferrero.”
Ferrero chief executive Giovanni Ferrero, who employs around 27,000 staff in the family firm, said: "We delivered our best-ever results in the UK in 2014, giving us confidence that now is the right time to broaden our roots in this important market."
The bid has been made by Ferholding UK, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ferrero incorporated in England and Wales on June 12 for the specific purpose on making this offer.
Thorntons added that, having acquired the entire share holdings of Paul and fellow director Jonathan Hart, and the majority of director Michael Killick’s holdings at the offer price along with the shares from a number of other holders, Ferholding today own 34.36 per cent of the company’s issued share capital.
In December, Thorntons has issued a profits warning due to poor sales in some supermarkets and in March they said half-year profits were “disappointing” having been hit by a drop in orders from two major supermarkets and supply problems at their new centralised warehouse.
Thorntons was established by Joseph William Thornton in Sheffield in 1911, and now employ around 3,500 staff at their factory and 242 shops and cafes in the UK and Ireland. They also have 158 franchise outlets, many in greetings and gift stores.

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