Knight Vinke builds up a stake in Kesa

Steve Dinneen
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Activist investor Knight Vinke has bought a three per cent stake in electrical retailer Kesa.

The move sent shares up nearly two per cent, amid speculation the investor may push for the group to be broken up.

Knight Vinke is known for its activist tendencies, having demanded changes at firms including HSBC, Royal Dutch Shell, VNU and Suez.

A Kesa spokesman said: “We have been notified of the stake. We have no further comment to make.”

Knight Vinke was not available for comment.

The Comet owner last week announced plans to freshen up its image after coming under pressure from Best Buy Europe, a joint venture between US retailer Best Buy and Carphone Warehouse. It has also felt the bite of a resurgent DSG International, owner of Curry’s.

Kesa posted an 18 per cent rise in full-year profit last week, as improved gross margins offset a decline in underlying sales growth.

The firm, which also runs market leader Darty in France, made an underlying pre-tax profit of £81.9m for the year to 30 April

That was ahead of company guidance of £76m and up from £69.5m made in 2008-09.

The group, which trades in 11 countries, said revenue rose 3.4 per cent to £5.1bn.

Comet saw a rise in annual profits of almost 14 per cent.

The chain made £11.5m in the year to the end of April, compared with £10.1m a year earlier