Hedge funds now own 23% of Mr Kipling owner Premier Foods after tycoon seeking to oust boss doubles his stake
Corporate raider Seth Fischer has doubled his stake in Premier Foods
A hedge fund tycoon seeking to oust the boss of cake maker Mr Kipling has doubled his stake ahead of a crunch vote.
Corporate raider Seth Fischer, who runs Hong Kong-based Oasis Management, turned up the pressure on Premier Foods chief executive Gavin Darby just days before the firm’s annual general meeting next Wednesday.
Oasis yesterday revealed it had increased its holding in Premier Foods, which also owns Bisto gravy and Ambrosia custard, from 9.1 per cent to 17.3 per cent. The bigger stake could be crucial.
Paulson & Co, a US hedge fund run by John Paulson and also trying to oust Darby, has built a 6.1 per cent stake.
Together this takes them above the 19.6 per cent of Japan’s Nissin Foods, a supporter of Darby and Premier’s biggest shareholder.
Darby, 62, is accused of presiding over a ‘zombie-like’ company and failing to lift shares since rejecting a takeover approach two years ago.
Yesterday a spokesman for Oasis said: ‘Our increased stake demonstrates our deep commitment and belief in the potential of Premier Foods, as well as our belief that under a different chief executive the company will be in a better position to capitalize on its many options for long-term shareholder value creation.
‘We have confidence that at the conclusion of the AGM, Gavin Darby will no longer be chief executive of Premier Foods.’ The row over Darby’s position goes back to 2016, when Premier spurned advances from US spice maker McCormick.
Instead, the father-of-two announced a deal to work with Nissin. His backers include the board, shareholder advisory groups ISS and Glass Lewis and former supermarket bosses Lord MacLaurin and Lord Price.
A spokesman for Premier Foods declined to comment on the increase in Oasis’s stake.