Premier Foods records £282.7m surplus as CEO steps down

Written by Theo Andrew

Premier Foods has recorded a £282.7m combined pension surplus, according to its half-year report, in which it announced that its CEO Gavin Darby would be stepping down.

Darby, who will leave his role after six years on 31 January 2019, announced his departure despite surviving a vote on his re-election at the group’s annual general meeting (AGM) in July.

Prior to the AGM, the chairs of trustees for the three Premier Food pension schemes accused Oasis Management Company of “destabilising” the delivery of the pension scheme promise to its members, following the investors attempts to oust Darby.

In June, the Hong-Kong-based investor, which owns 9.34 per cent of Premier Food’s shares, expressed its intention to vote against Darby at the company’s AGM, and that it “may encourage others to do the same”.

According to a Telegraph report, Darby has been under pressure after rejecting a 65p per share takeover bid from US manufacturer McCormick in 2016.

The group’s combined surplus is down from the £317m recorded at 31 March 2018 on an IAS 19 accounting basis, with Premier Foods recording a deficit of £432.8m, boosted by RHM pensions schemes’ £715.5m surplus.

Premier Food’s deficit was down on the £437m recorded in March 2018, while the RHM pension was also down on the £754m achieved six months previously.

According to the group, £18.8m was paid into the pension schemes during H1 18/19, down on the £19.8m paid over the same period last year.

In 2017, the group said it would be reducing its contribution to the scheme by £32m over the last three years.

Pensions Age has contacted Premier Foods and Octopus Management Company for comment.

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