Booker raises profits while PwC decides fate of stake

CASH-and-carry company Booker Group said yesterday its full-year pre-tax profits soared by 30 per cent, and that it expects to know the future of bankrupt bank Kaupthing&rsquo;s stake in its business within days.<br /><br />The 22 per cent stake was previously held by Kaupthing Capital Partners but, following an Isle of Man court hearing on Wednesday, is now held by PricewaterhouseCoopers, acting on behalf of Kaupthing Singer &amp; Friedlander, which is in liquidation.<br /><br />&ldquo;Our understanding is it&rsquo;s a transfer from one bust part of Kaupthing to another bust part of Kaupthing,&rdquo; said Booker chief executive Charles Wilson. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re expecting to sit down with PwC later this week or sometime next week.&rdquo;<br /><br />The financial regulator in Kaupthing&rsquo;s home market of Iceland took control of the banking group last October and it filed for bankruptcy protection from US creditors in December.<br /><br />Booker, which supplies independent grocers and caterers, as well as schools and prisons, made a pre-tax profit of &pound;47.2m in the year to 27 March. <br /><br />The 173-branch group said sales had increased by 3.3 per cent to &pound;3.2bn, and proposed a final dividend to 67p &ndash; bringing the annual dividend up by 62 per cent at 87p.<br /><br />Wilson said the firm&rsquo;s business with grocers was benefiting from consumers shopping locally in the recession, while its catering business was winning market share.