Food group cooks up plan for growth

Newly-listed Cooks Food Group is looking to raise capital for the acquisition of another food-related business.

Cooks, which debuted on the NZAX last week, consists of food businesses Cotterill & Rouse, Murdoch Foods and Sahara Foods.

It gained its place on the exchange via a back-door listing through Tasman Capital, which involved Tasman’s 450-odd shareholders being given a combined 10% of the company’s shares.

Now those shareholders will be offered the chance to increase their stakes via a $5000 “share purchase plan.”

Chairman Keith Jackson says this is to give Cooks Food Group a better shareholder spread – currently, 90% of the company is owned by the principals and employees of the food businesses involved – and fund an acquisition.

Mr Jackson declined to name the target company but confirmed that negotiations were progressing and he hoped to announce the deal by the end of the year.

He says there aren’t any plans to make participation in the capital raising available to the public.

Just $500 of Cooks Food Group shares changed hands in the company’s first week of trading on the NZAX.

This is hardly surprising, considering 19.6 million of the company’s 22 million shares are covered by an escrow deed, under which shareholders would not dispose of the shares for a year following listing.

Mr Jackson says this is to give minority shareholders the confidence that management are not just looking to offload their stakes.

The transactions carried out to establish Cooks were based on a combined entity value of $5.5 million.
Most of Cooks' products fitted in to the segments of chilled vegetarian foods, salad dressings and mayonnaise, Asian sauces, and chutneys, pickles and relishes.

The only other listing on the stock exchange this year was Geneva Finance in July. Before that the most recent was NZ Farming Systems Uruguay last December.

Tasman Capital is planning to list broking house WSD Financial by the end of the year.


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