Indian origin 'chicken king' faces more problems

Tuesday 13th August 2019 15:56 EDT

Britain's Indian-origin "chicken king", whose poultry operations is battling a hygiene scandal, face more problems as the price of its bonds hits a record low. Concerns have been raised about the strength of heavily indebted Ranjit Boparan’s 2 Sisters Food Group as it changed hands for as little as 50p in the pound recently. Britain’s biggest chicken supplier has bought back £250m of debt, but has more than £600m of high-interest bonds outstanding, split across two tranches. Those bonds have plummeted in value as 2 Sisters struggles a squeeze from supermarkets and crumbling consumer confidence. In November 2017, the credit ratings agency Moody's downgraded its debt rating deeper into junk territory on fears over meager profit margins and huge debts.

The 51-year-old tycoon, based in the Midlands region of England, left school at 16 and turned 2 Sisters into Britain's largest poultry supplier through a series of acquisitions, including a £342m takeover of quoted rival Northern Foods in 2011. But this acquisition spree left him saddled with debt and a pension deficit that totalled £269m last year.
In an effort to cut debt, Boparan has been selling businesses, including Goodfella’s pizza and Donegal Catch, and is also disposing his Matthew Walker Christmas puddings business. 2 Sisters said: “Our business turnaround is well on track as evidenced by our recent results showing positive profit generation, which we expect to continue in the coming quarters.”

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