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UPDATE 1-Electra to pay 350 million stg special dividend after strategic review
October 23, 2017 / 10:18 AM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Electra to pay 350 million stg special dividend after strategic review

* Special dividend worth 914 pence per share

* Electra under pressure from activist investor

* Company to suspend new investments

* Shares up 3.5 percent (Adds source comments, details, shares)

By Noor Zainab Hussain

Oct 23 (Reuters) - Electra Private Equity, under pressure to improve shareholder returns from an activist investor, will pay a multi-million pound special dividend and has suspended new investments after a strategic review.

The company, one of Britain’s oldest private equity firms, said in a statement on Monday that due to current market conditions it would not be making any new investments for the time being and that shareholders would get a special payout of 350 million pounds ($462 million), or 914 pence per share.

Electra, whose investments include restaurant chain TGI Fridays and online photo printing company Photobox, is also proposing to remove the words “private equity” from its name.

The company, which earlier this year split from its investment manager Electra Partners, now renamed Epiris, is reorganising its structure. It had been the subject of a long campaign by activist investor Edward Bramson to overhaul the group.

Electra shares were up 3.5 percent at 1,786 pence, making it the third-largest gainer on the FTSE Midcap Index.

For now, the company is planning to focus on increasing the value of its investments and raising payouts to shareholders. A source familiar with the strategy said it was looking to move away from the traditional private equity model of always putting money into new investments every time an asset is sold.

The source added the change in investment model would reduce management fees and strip away the requirement for Electra to continuously seek new investments, reducing costs and freeing up cash.

The special dividend, to be paid on Dec. 1 to shareholders on the register at the close of business on Nov. 3, means it will have paid shareholders about 1.9 billion pounds since resuming dividends in 2015.

Electra said it would update its investment policy to reflect its focus on shareholder returns and explore options for the reclassification of its stock market listing. Shareholders will be asked to vote on its proposed changes, including the name change.

The firm also said it would also take actions to simplify its corporate and underlying partnership structures to cut costs and increase efficiency, as part of the second phase of the review. ($1 = 0.7567 pounds) (Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by David Holmes)

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