Osmond vehicle blames poor markets as it raises £80m less than expected

David Hellier
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HUGH Osmond, the entreprenuer behind Pizza Express, the Punch pub group and Pearl insurance, has raised less than he hoped for his new acquisition vehicle Horizon.

Osmond, who originally hoped to raise £500m from equity investors, revealed yesterday that the group had raised £417.7m from new shares at £10 a share.

Advisers to the share placing blamed the adverse stock market conditions for the shortfall.

“We started the process late last year when markets were more stable and despite cataclysmic markets we got it away,” one adviser said last night.

Osmond hopes to make acquisitions for businesses that are fundamentally constrained by an over-geared balance sheet.

He believes he can generate decent returns for his investors by focusing on acquiring heavily indebted companies and turning them around.

Osmond said yesterday: “Today there are fundamentally good companies which have poor capital structures, because of the weight of their debt. For them, refinancings are expensive elastoplast.”

Horizon raised money without having specific acquisitions in mind, which may have made the money-raising process more difficult.

Credit Suisse is the book-runner on the placing and Numis Securities is the co-lead manager.