16th Nov 2023 09:47
(Alliance News) - Hotel Chocolat Group PLC shares surged on Thursday, after it said it has agreed a takeover offer with US confectionery products manufacturer Mars Inc.
Hotel Chocolat's shareholders will receive 375 pence in cash for each share, just short of triple the closing price of 139p on Wednesday, valuing the Hertfordshire, England-based chocolatier at GBP534 million on a fully-diluted basis.
Shares in Hotel Chocolat surged to 365.08p each on Thursday.
"Mars believes it is well-positioned to support Hotel Chocolat's next growth phase with its international footprint, global supply chain and extensive commercial relationships, which could provide the Hotel Chocolat brand with an enhanced platform for growth in the UK and potentially in new geographies," the companies said.
They added that McLean, Virginia-based Mars considers that the acquisition will strengthen its position in the UK market, where Hotel Chocolat has operated since 1932 and employs around 10,000 people.
Hotel Chocolat Chair Stephen Alexander said: "Hotel Chocolat is a brand with strong long-term prospects and today's deal will allow it to grow further and faster. Joining forces with Mars will deliver great value through the cash offer for Hotel Chocolat shareholders and the combination will create exciting opportunities for Hotel Chocolat employees as part of Mars."
Hotel Chocolat has faced some difficulties in the past year. It was only in June when the company issued a profit warning.
It had it expects to deliver an underlying marginal pretax loss for financial 2023. For financial 2022, underlying pretax profit was GBP21.7 million. For financial 2024, it expects sales and underlying pretax profit to be lower than current market expectations due to ongoing weakness in consumer sentiment and continuing inflationary pressures.
Back in March, Hotel Chocolat reported pretax profit in the six months to December 25 of GBP8.3 million, down 59% from GBP20.4 million the year before. Revenue declined 9.2% to GBP129.8 million from GBP142.9 million.
By Sophie Rose, Alliance News senior reporter
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