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Whitbread to split Costa Coffee after investor pressure

PUBLISHED: 08:53 25 April 2018 | UPDATED: 08:53 25 April 2018

Costa is to be spun off into a separate company by its owner Whitbread. Picture: PA/PA Wire

Costa is to be spun off into a separate company by its owner Whitbread. Picture: PA/PA Wire

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Whitbread is to spin off Costa into a separately listed business.

The group, which also owns Premier Inn, has announced it will pursue a “demerger” of the coffee shop chain, expected to be completed within two years.

It follows increasing pressure from activist investor Elliott Advisors, which became the company’s largest shareholder last week, for a break-up of the business.

Whitbread chief executive Alison Brittain said: “Given the progress Whitbread is making, we are confident that both Premier Inn and Costa will soon be businesses of sufficient strength, scale and capability to enable them to thrive as independent companies.

“The board, therefore, believes that it is in the best long-term interests of Whitbread’s many stakeholders to separate Premier Inn and Costa, via a demerger of Costa.”

Ms Brittain said the separation, which will see Costa have its own listing, will create “long-term value” for stakeholders and will allow both firms to focus on growth in the UK and internationally.

Whitbread will remain the owner and operator of Premier Inn.

Costa is thought to be worth between £2bn and £3bn on a standalone basis while Premier Inn is valued at up to £8bn.

Shareholder Elliott, along with Sachem Head, had been pushing for a break-up of the group.

Shares in Whitbread were up 1% in morning trading.

Greg Johnson, analyst at Shore Capital, said: “A cleaner operation [at Whitbread] should enable greater operational focus and afford investors greater clarity on profit and cash generation.

“The ongoing heavy lifting, including revamping technology and repositioning of the estate, should begin to improve operating performance in the UK, whilst International remains the key catalyst for value creation.”

Alongside the announcement, Whitbread reported annual sales growth of 6.1% to £3.3bn while pre-tax profits rose 6.4% to £548m.

Annual figures also showed that Costa booked a 1.2% rise in like for like sales over the year, ahead of expectations.

Whitbread has a history dating back to 1742 and has over the years owned well-known brands such as TGI Fridays, Pizza Hut and Marriott Hotels.

Costa, which Whitbread acquired in 1995 from founders Sergio and Bruno Costa, has more than 2,400 stores and is embarking on overseas expansion.

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