Greencore Climbs on Report Exista Has Amassed a Stake

Feb. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Greencore Group Plc, the world's biggest maker of prepared sandwiches, rose in Dublin trading after the Irish Independent reported that Exista hf bought a stake of more than 8 percent.

Exista, which owns part of Icelandic food supplier Bakkavor Group hf, may want to merge Bakkavor's Geest unit with Dublin-based Greencore's sandwich division, the newspaper said Feb. 9, without saying where it got the information. Exista spokesman Sigurdur Nordal said the company wouldn't comment on market speculation. Greencore spokesman Billy Murphy also declined to comment.

Greencore climbed 20 cents, or 5 percent, to 4.20 euros in Dublin, increasing the company's market value to about 835 million euros ($1.2 billion). Exista stock fell 5.2 percent to 11 kronur ($0.16) in Reykjavik.

Greencore makes more than 200 million sandwiches a year and bottles more mineral water in the U.K. under customers' brands than any rival. The company, formerly known as Irish Sugar, closed its last sugar factory in 2006, and now relies on its convenience-foods and ingredients units for growth. Convenience foods generate about four-fifths of Greencore's sales.

Exista invests in financial-services companies in the Nordic region and owned almost 25 percent of Kaupthing Bank hf, Iceland's largest bank, on Dec. 31. It is also a shareholder in Storebrand ASA, (STB) the Norwegian insurer in which Kaupthing also invests. Exista operates Iceland's largest property and casualty insurer VIS and life insurance company Lifis.

To contact the reporter on this story: Louisa Nesbitt in Dublin at lnesbitt@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Keith Campbell at k.campbell@bloomberg.net.

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