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AB Foods majority investor to sell GBP273 million worth of shares

30th May 2024 17:26

(Alliance News) - Associated British Foods PLC's largest shareholder will trim its stake in the Primark owner through a bookbuild, according to a statement on Thursday.

Howard Investments Ltd, part of Wittington Investments Ltd, plans to sell around 10.3 million shares in AB Foods, a 1.4% chunk of the FTSE 100 listing's share capital. The sum represents just under 2.4% of Wittington and Howard's combined AB Foods holding.

AB Foods shares fell 0.6% to 2,652.13 pence each in London on Thursday. At current prices, the shares being sold are worth GBP273.2 million.

Wittington's main investment is AB Foods, though it also owns stakes in food and hospitality brand Fortnum & Mason and it invests in real estate.

Wittington was established by Garfield Weston, part of the Weston family, in 1941. George Weston, a non-executive of Wittington and also part of the pre-eminent family, is the AB Foods chief executive.

Since AB Foods started a share buyback it announced in November, the combined Wittington and Howard stake in the firm has increased to just under 58%, from just over 56%.

"Following completion of the proposed transaction and the remainder of the FY24 buyback, the percentage interest represented by the combined shareholding of Wittington and Howard is expected to be broadly in line with its level prior to the commencement of the FY24 buyback," a statement said on Thursday.

Howard has entered into a secondary block trade agreement with UBS AG, London Branch as part of the bookbuild.

"A further announcement will be made following completion of the bookbuild and pricing of the offering," according to the statement. "Wittington is committed to maintaining a majority stake in ABF."

By Eric Cunha, Alliance News news editor

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