US deal sees Ocado deliver for backers
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.