RFG back to square one in asset sale process

Retail Food Group on Tuesday said sale talks with a potential buyer of its Donut King, Pizza Capers and Crust businesses have ended in disappointment, following months of negotiations.

The deal fell through after the two parties failed to reach a formal binding agreement on terms that the board considered to be in the best interests of the company as a whole, RFG said in a statement.

“Our Donut King and QSR brands [Pizza Capers and Crust] continue to provide solid earnings contributing to the company’s underlying profit,” Peter George, executive chairman of RFG, said.

“The potential sale of any of these assets must be at a price not only acceptable to our board but in the best interests of our shareholders.”

The franchisor, which operates Gloria Jean’s Coffees, Brumby’s Bakeries, Donut King, Michel’s Patisserie, Di Bella Coffee, The Coffee Guy, Café2U, Pizza Capers and Crust, had been pursuing an asset sale to help pay down its net debt of roughly $258.9 million, after restructuring costs and write-downs wiped out its declining profit in the first half of FY19.

An RFG spokesperson said the failure to sell its Donut King and QSR brands will not impact the company’s recent agreement with NAB and Westpac to reset its financial covenants and waive a review of the business.

The company continues to work closely with its lenders and maintains their support, the spokesperson said.

The RFG board is investigating a range of other options to pay down its debt, including equity, other debt funding options and potential asset sales, and will update the market of any definitive option being reached.

In response to a report in the Australian Financial Review that the Australian Securities and Investments Commission is “keeping an eye” on the franchisor, particularly around big announcements, the RFG board said it has not been made aware of any current investigations.

A spokesperson for ASIC told IR that “ASIC supervises the market, so we monitor all share trading”.

“The AFR report just concerned the fact that as a general rule we review trading in any securities ahead of or during significant corporate events or announcements. That is what we always do.”

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