Time to go private

The management of Time Products, the distributor and retailer of branded watches, has announced an offer to take the company private.

The board of Almar and Time Products have announced the terms of an offer for all shares other than those owned by the family shareholders and Almar, a company formed for the purpose of making the offer.

If the scheme becomes effective, shareholders will receive 190 pence per share in cash and a letter of entitlement. The offer price represents a premium of 34.3 per cent to the closing price of 141.5 pence per share on 27 March, the day before an announcement was made regarding an offer. Chairman of the company and principal shareholder in Almar, Marcus Margulies, says the offer is at a “price in excess of net asset value”.

The reason for going private is that the company has been trading at a discount of over 30 per cent of net asset value. The scheme requires 75 per cent of independent shareholders to approve the offer. This will be decided on 23 July when a shareholder vote takes place. Ron Brierley, of Guinness Peat, has a 28 per cent stake in the company, Morley Fund Management has 6.2 per cent and Edinburgh Fund Manager has 3.3 per cent.

Time Products distributes and retails branded watches, watchstraps and associated products. It owns an 8.8 per cent stake in Swiss luxury watch manufacturer Audemars Piguet. Annual result for the year ended January 2001 saw pre-tax profit increasing from £7.4m to £9.1m. This was despite a fall in sales from £64.4m to £59.3m. The fall in turnover was mainly as a result of selling its Judith Leiber division, a luxury handbag manufacturer based in New York, in September last year for £9.3 million.

In private ownership, Almar intends to pursue the current strategy for the volume business, and to support the remaining brands in the luxury watch division. Time Products is being advised by SG Hambros Corporate Finance and Almar by PricewaterhouseCoopers.