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Sunday, 26 October 2014

H&H buy further shares in their rival

H&H Group has been buying shares in rival Penrith Farmers’ & Kidd’s amid speculation about a takeover bid.

Penrith Farmers’ and Kidd’s (PF&K) announced before Christmas that it had received an “initial, preliminary approach” from H&H, which owns the Borderway Mart in Carlisle.

Now PF&K’s chairman, Robert Good, has revealed that H&H has bought 3,405 shares since mid-October, most recently on November 16, giving it 6,233 in total.

He told the annual general meeting, at the Hired Lad, Penrith, that PF&K had been forced to announce details of H&H’s interest to counter speculation.

Mr Good said: “Shareholders will undoubtedly be aware of the rumours which have been circulating of late, rumours which reached the board via tenants and staff, among others, with unsettling effect.

“Perhaps as a result of these rumours the share price rose by more than 10 per cent.

“In these circumstances, we approached the Takeover Panel who instructed us that an announcement must be made and we therefore complied with their requirements.”

Details of a possible approach from an unnamed bidder, whose identity was protected by a confidentiality agreement, emerged at the 2011 annual meeting.

Mr Good said that no talks between the parties had taken place since.

H&H says that Takeover Panel rules prevent it from commenting.

It has until January 15 to make a bid or announce that it does not intend to.

Penrith-based PF&K has divisions offering residential estate agency and valuation, residential letting and management, commercial agency and valuation, land agency, planning consultancy, and fine art, antique and furniture sales.

It sold its livestock-auction business to H&H in 2002.

Mr Good delivered an upbeat forecast for 2013 as shareholders approved a dividend of 30p for the year to August.

He announced that the company would be rebranded this month – the first such change for 20 years – with a new corporate logo, although the name will remain.

Mr Good said: “The board take an optimistic view that life will carry on and, despite being in the midst of an economic recession, we have planned for the company to weather the storm and be in the best possible position to take advantage of any upturn.

“To this end we have been planning a rebrand.

“Over the years the different departments of the company have adopted different themes, logos and colour schemes, these will now be united under one brand across the company.

“The first the public will see of this will be the new fascias in the five estate-agency offices.”

Mr Good paid tribute to “the long and valuable service” provided by Kyle Blue who stepped down as manager of the estate agency in 2012 after 23 years.

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