8 June 2001

Malton Foods on market

STRUGGLING bacon firm Malton Foods is up for sale after announcing year-end losses of £11.4m.

The decision was confirmed by parent company Uniq, formerly known as Unigate, when a set of disappointing results, released this week, were blamed on the hapless pork subsidiary.

According to a spokeswoman, negotiations with third parties are at an "advanced stage" and the firm expects the disposal to be completed by Christmas.

While not confirming the exact sale price, the spokeswoman noted that press reports of £45-50m were "in line" with the companys expectations. Some pundits see this as optimistic and have suggested £20-25m as a more realistic value.

Uniqs pre-tax profits fell by more than 50% to £57.5m in the year ending March 31. However, exceptional items, such as the de-merger of logistics arm Wincanton, turned this into a loss of £118.4m.

Turnover during the year slumped by 15% to £2.5bn and this was reflected in a share price that fell by 51.2p over the same period. &#42