US deal sees Ocado de­liver for back­ers

Irish Independent - - Business - El­lie Don­nelly

THE long-term back­ers of re­tailer Ocado Group can sud­denly af­ford their own mas­sive shop­ping sprees.

Share­hold­ers watched their in­vest­ment soar more than 80pc yes­ter­day af­ter a game-chang­ing deal to li­cence Ocado’s on­line gro­cer tech­nol­ogy to US re­tailer Kroger.

Nick Roditi, a for­mer money man­ager un­der Ge­orge Soros who first in­vested in the UK on­line gro­cer in 2005, saw the 15.4pc po­si­tion he con­trols through an in­vest­ment ve­hi­cle gain £350m (€296m) yes­ter­day.

Jorn Raus­ing, Ocado’s sec­ond-largest share­holder, has made al­most £250m. The Swedish bil­lion­aire, a ben­e­fi­ciary of a fam­ily trust that owns Te­tra Laval, has been a share­holder and board mem­ber since com­mit­ting £15m in 2002 through his in­vest­ment ve­hi­cle.

Ocado chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Tim Steiner raked in about £34m from his 1.6pc stake. He is also a ben­e­fi­ciary of the Mil­len­nium Trust, which owns a sep­a­rate 2.4pc stake in Ocado, ac­cord­ing to Bloomberg data.

Ocado’s mar­ket cap­i­tal­i­sa­tion rose to £5.54bn, leapfrog­ging re­tail stal­wart Marks & Spencer.

The com­pany is now a can­di­date to be in­cluded in the UK’s bench­mark FTSE 100 index.

The deal to be­come Kroger’s ex­clu­sive part­ner in the US se­cures Ocadao’s en­try into the world’s big­gest mar­ket.

It’s Kroger’s re­sponse to the com­pet­i­tive threat posed by Ama­zon’s pur­chase of Whole Foods. Ocado’s home-de­liv­ery tech­nol­ogy has al­ready won three ma­jor deals with su­per­mar­kets around the world in the past six months. Re­tail­ers are ex­per­i­ment­ing with dif­fer­ent ways of de­liv­er­ing on­line gro­cery or­ders, seek­ing to bal­ance speed with cost as e-com­merce takes off for food.

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