(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Billionaire Daniel Kretinsky made a blatant attempt to take control over German wholesaler Metro AG without paying investors a decent premium last year. Now the shares have almost halved in value, he’s at it again.The hospitality sector accounted for 48% of Metro’s revenue in 2019, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. The pandemic has exacerbated its existing woes. Kretinsky succeeded in amassing an almost 30% stake after 2019’s 16-euros-a-share ($19-a-share) offer. Since then, he’s sat on the sidelines while a turnaround has failed to materialize for Chief Executive Officer Olaf Koch.With hindsight, shareholders must wish they’d sold to Kretinsky last year. Now, with investment parter Patrik Tkac, he intends to offer 8.48 euros per share. That’s just 2% more than Friday’s closing price. What’s more, Koch is stepping down at the end of this year, paving the way for his successor to pursue a fresh strategy that might lead to a revival. The group’s two founding shareholders, the Meridian Foundation and the Otto Beisheim Foundation, which control 23%, are unlikely to be tempted. But Kretinsky probably only wants just a handful of shareholders to sell. If that happens, the stake held by his EP Global Commerce GmbH vehicle would jump over 30% and, under German takeover law, he will then be able to buy more shares in the market without being forced to launch a fresh bid.Indeed, EP Global doesn’t appear to be aiming for 100% — it says it does not expect to hold more than 50%. This is what is known as “creeping control”. Bulking up could give Kretinsky more influence over the CEO recruitment process, and his or her strategy. The risk to Metro shareholders is that he gradually gains ownership of the company, without paying them a premium. The market is pushing back: Metro stock rose above the offer price on Monday.But shareholders will find it easier to snub this offer on the grounds it is opportunistic, rather than for any positive reason. Koch carried out a significant restructuring, selling department store chain Galeria Kaufhof, demerging electricals arm Ceconomy AG and most recently raising around 1.9 billion euros in cash from the sale of the Real hypermarket chain and control of its Chinese arm. Metro has not shrunk to greatness. Signs of recovery over recent months as restaurants and hotels reopened are encouraging, but a second wave of the virus is a significant risk.A rival offer could yet materialize. U.S. food distributor Sysco Corp. made an approach earlier this year. All the same, Metro can’t just magic up a knock-out friendly bid. Its best option is to give new management a go at building on the turnaround whose foundations may now have been laid. If the new CEO finally manages to revitalize Metro, or Kretinsky’s move flushes out another bid, then the value of his existing holding will rise. If the wholesaler continues to drift, he can to pick up more shares. Disillusioned investors may be itching to throw in the towel — but they’d be helping Kretinsky gain increasing influence on very sweet terms.(Provides final figure for disposal proceeds in sixth paragraph.)This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Andrea Felsted is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering the consumer and retail industries. She previously worked at the Financial Times.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Sysco (SYY) launches Foodie Solutions platform to help foodservice operators as well as its customers amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Comprehensive Platform Provides Array of Resources to Help Operators Drive Traffic and Grow RevenueHOUSTON, Sept. 10, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Sysco Corporation (NYSE: SYY) today announced the launch of Foodie Solutions, an innovative platform created to support foodservice operators in today’s rapidly changing business climate. With its broad-based perspective from supporting restaurants and other foodservice operators across the country, Sysco identified the most essential tools to help customers respond quickly to shifting business requirements and trends resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Foodie Solutions’ comprehensive suite of toolkits is designed to help operators drive traffic, generate revenue and grow their business as they navigate the current environment.Foodie Solutions features carefully curated toolkits focused on safely implementing vital strategies for meeting increased demand for delivery and alternative dining options. These toolkits include: * Virtual Kitchens – Recommendations for serving customers solely through online and phone orders without a brick and mortar concept or dining room; * Grab & Go Foods - A guide to offering pre-made meals and signature dishes; * Family Style Meal Kits – Solutions to help customers save time and enjoy an at home experience; and * Patio Dining – Strategies to revamp customers’ outdoor dining experiences. By deploying these tools within their existing operations, restaurateurs can chart new, innovative courses to drive traffic and optimize profitability. Foodie Solutions also supports customers beyond the day-to-day needs of running the business, providing resources focused on long-term operational strategies with scalable tools that help operators succeed in the “new normal.”“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve stood by foodservice operators across the country as they wrestled with unprecedented challenges to their businesses. With our unique perspective as a nationwide supplier to the industry, we’ve identified and already begun to implement proven strategies restauranteurs can use to meet their rapidly changing needs,” said Greg Keller, senior vice president of sales and chief customer officer. “Today, we are proud to launch Foodie Solutions, which provides resources designed to assist customers ‘where they are’ – no matter which stage of reopening they are in. Our customers can count on us to provide solutions to propel innovation and longevity through this current crisis and into the future.”Additional Foodie Solutions toolkit contents include: * Tailgating – Everything restaurants need to market and capitalize on game day events; * Raising the Bar – Simple and profitable foodservice solutions for bar operators; * Back to School – Suggestions for prepackaged and ready-to-go meals with kid (and parent) approved recipes; * Kitchen to Kitchen – Meal prep kits designed to provide customers curated culinary experiences in the comfort of their home; and * Curbside and Takeout - How to maximize takeout and delivery, whether in-house or through a third-party delivery partner.Sysco customers also receive exclusive value-added services through Sysco’s iCARE partner program and Sysco Marketing Concierge, which allow customers to easily navigate our available resources and gain access to customer and sales webinars. More information about Foodie Solutions can be found on the Sysco Foodie website.About Sysco Sysco is the global leader in selling, marketing and distributing food products to restaurants, healthcare and educational facilities, lodging establishments and other customers who prepare meals away from home. Its family of products also includes equipment and supplies for the foodservice and hospitality industries. With more than 57,000 associates, the company operates 326 distribution facilities worldwide and serves more than 625,000 customer locations. For fiscal 2020 that ended June 27, 2020, the company generated sales of more than $52 billion. Information about our CSR program, including Sysco’s 2019 Corporate Social Responsibility Report, can be found at www.sysco.com/csr2019report.For more information, visit www.sysco.com or connect with Sysco on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SyscoCorporation or Twitter at https://twitter.com/Sysco. For important news and information regarding Sysco, visit the Investor Relations section of the company’s Internet home page at investors.sysco.com, which Sysco plans to use as a primary channel for publishing key information to its investors, some of which may contain material and previously non-public information. Investors should also follow us at www.twitter.com/SyscoStock and download the Sysco IR App, available on the iTunes App Store and the Google Play Market. In addition, investors should continue to review our news releases and filings with the SEC. It is possible that the information we disclose through any of these channels of distribution could be deemed to be material information. For more information contact:Shannon Mutschler Media Contact Mutschler.Shannon@corp.sysco.com T: 281-584-4059