Teso fight with Hunter rages on

Tesco gain 50 per cent of Dobbies rival Sir Tom Hunter remains thorn in side

Tesco has finally succeeded in its bid for garden centre group Dobbies but insiders are predicting the stalemate with minority shareholder Sir Tom Hunter will continue. Hunter, the owner of rival chains Wyevale and Blooms and 29.9 per cent shareholder in Country Homes and Gardens and Flying Brands will protect his investment in the garden retail market by taking a 29.9 per cent share in Dobbies and blocking Tesco’s attempts to expand. Stockbroker Seymour Pierce retail analyst consultant Richard Ratner said: “Because of the size of his stake, Hunter can now block resolutions at AGMs and EGMs, such as rights issues that might be used to help fund expansion at Dobbies, and thereby protect his own position in the gardening sector." Ratner said Tesco may buy stores and give Dobbies’ management contracts. He added that the last unconsolidated retail sector had fallen to the investors but that Hunter had spotted its value before anyone else. He added: “Tesco parked their tanks on his lawn. They’re not after Dobbies’ 20 centres-they want 120. Hunter had said Dobbies’ shares were not worth £12 but he’s now got 29.3 per cent and is buying at £15. That’s not because he wants to pay that price but because he wants to protect his investment.”

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