News Column

SSP closing in on float

June 16, 2014

Daily Mail, London



June 16--Former WHSmith boss Kate Swann is set for a return to the City as her food and shops chain seeks a pounds sterling 2bn stock market listing.

Private equity-backed SSP, which owns a host of food kiosks in airports and railway stations including Upper Crust, Millie's Cookies, and Caffe Ritazza is expected to be the latest retailer to come to market.

Sources suggest an announcement will be made later this week assuming the City's current appetite for listings does not cool.

SSP, which was spun out of catering giant Compass in 2006, was snapped up by Scandinavia's biggest private equity group, EQT.

Swann is expected to announce that EQT plans to realise some investment after eight years growing the business.

Last week SSP posted a 12.6pc rise in half year operating profit to pounds sterling 54m on sales of pounds sterling 865.8m. EQT wants to sell down 25pc of its stake, raising about pounds sterling 500m to fund overseas expansion.

The arrival of Swann at SSP last September was always seen as a prelude to a float, given her experience on public markets and the length of time in which EQT had held an investment.

SSP employs 30,000 and has interests in 30 different countries. The company also manages shops and restaurants for Burger King, Costa and Marks & Spencer.

Swann replaced Andrew Lynch, who in a previous role was Compass's finance director.

The group recently beefed up the boardroom with some heavyweight non-executive directors.

Swann said last week: 'There has been loads of speculation about SSP and I have been told not to comment about whether they will float it.'

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(c)2014 Daily Mail (London, )

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Source: Daily Mail (London, England)


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