Novelist. Author of APSARAS and tales from the beautiful Saigh Valley. First person to quantify spiritual values.

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Sunday 20 May 2012

Sale of Bird's Eye

There is news that the British frozen food manufacturer 'Bird's Eye' is likely to be sold to an overseas buyer.
The owner of Bird's Eye is a company called Permira, a firm that is described as an European Private Equity company. It is not the only frozen food company that is owned by a Private Equity fund; Lion Capital owns Young's seafoods and was recently referred to the monopolies commission when attempting to buy Cumbrian Seafoods. It is thought that Lion may have cornered the market in smoked salmon if the deal went ahead.
This exploitation of the markets for personal greed was recently seen when a bank JP Morgan tried to corner the copper market.

Why do I feel such a sense of loss when British companies are sold to overseas concerns and see them subsequently desecrated with impunity such as at Cadbury's. Kraft, an American company felt that the Chocolate manufacturer was undervalued in the stock market and bought it, closing factories and moving the headquarters to Switzerland. The country lost not only tax revenue on the company's profits but also valuable jobs and likely expertise in a business that was pre-eminant in its market. Like the Private Equity companies, Kraft didn't care about the history, the heritage, the effect of the move on the workforce and the surrounding area. The only thing that mattered was profit for Kraft shareholders at whatever human cost.

Like JP Morgan with copper, Permira and Lion have no business to be in frozen foods. They trade in stock market value only and run their companies as an accountant rather than as a miner or fisherman, say. Not for the first time I wonder if this is the way forward or is it, in fact, the reason the Country has so much unemployment and unhappiness. Too few people are cornering, not just the copper and seafood, but the money in the Country causing a huge disparity between those who have and those who haven't.

I believe in big rewards for those who create wealth by invention or manufacture. But rewarding those who do neither of this things but manipulate markets is not only stupid but will ultimately bring down the World order.

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