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De La Rue targeted by activist Crystal Amber

By Mark Kleinman, City Editor
One of the London stock market's most prominent activist investors is building a stake in De La Rue, the company at the centre of a row over the production of Britain's post-Brexit passports.
Sky News has learnt that‎ Crystal Amber has acquired roughly 2% of De La Rue, which prints banknotes for the Bank of England and other central banks around the world.
Sources said the stake-building by Crystal Amber, which in the past has agitated for change at companies including Aer Lingus, Pinewood Shepperton and Thornton's, the chocolate retailer, was expected to be disclosed in an update to investors this week.The fund manager is said by a source close to De La Rue to have already held preliminary discussions with the company, with its share purchases having taken place over a period of several weeks.Insiders said that Crystal Amber intended to continue building‎ its stake over the coming months.De La Rue has sprung to national prominence after losing out on a contract from Her Majesty's Passport Office to design and produce the UK passport when its existing deal expires in July 2019.The decision by the Government to instead award the tender to Gemalto, a Franco-Dutch company, has enraged Brexit supporters and sparked a campaign by the Daily Mail to have the decision reversed.The Home Office has suggested that changing contractors would save taxpayers €120m, although sceptics have highlighted a failure to take account of lost tax revenues if De La Rue, a UK-based company, had continued to produce British passports.De La Rue is appealing against the decision and last week was given an extra fortnight to gather information that could help it overturn the original verdict.
Of greater concern to some of the company's shareholders, however, has been the departure‎ of its chief financial officer, Jitesh Sodha, which was announced three weeks ago alongside guidance that full-year results would be "around the lower end of the current consensus range".De La Rue's shares have been under pressure, sliding by almost 20% during the last year.They closed on Monday at 500p, giving it a market capitalisation of just over €500m.Crystal Amber and other investors are said to believe the decline in De La Rue's value has left it exposed to a takeover bid from an international rival.The banknote printer was approached in late 2010 by the French‎ company Oberthur Technologies about a deal worth 905p-a-share, which was later increased to 935p-a-share.De La Rue rejected the bid, since when its shares have fallen by more than 40%.
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It was unclear on Monday evening whether Crystal Amber intended to press for management changes at the company, or other actions aimed at boosting its flagging share price.Crystal Amber declined to comment, while De La Rue could not be reached.
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