Tuesday 6 November 2018 9:39 am

Asset manager Invesco ups stake in Patisserie Valerie amid shareholder bailout

A top ten investor in Patisserie Valerie has more than quadrupled its stake in the under-pressure cake shop chain.

Invesco increased its shareholding to 7.76 per cent on Friday, taking it above the three per cent threshold where investors must disclose their stake.

The investor, with around $1.2 trillion (£919bn) in assets under management, held 1.73 per cent of Patisserie Valerie’s shares in late October.

It has pressured chairman Luke Johnson and the cakemaker’s board to allow a law firm or independent investigator to look into the problems in the company’s accounts, the Times reported last month.

Patisserie Valerie has faced questions since it discovered a £40m black hole in its books last month, with former finance chief Chris Marsh arrested and subsequently bailed without charge as police look into the matter.

Shares in the baker have been suspended as the firm and the Serious Fraud Office probe potential fraud, while shareholders have been forced to pump £15m into the business to save it from administration through the issue of 30m new shares.

It is believed Invesco bought its latest shares as part of this deal, which was approved at a stormy shareholder meeting last Thursday.

Chairman Luke Johnson, who is set to waive his £60,000 salary, revealed at that extraordinary meeting that Patisserie Valerie was just hours away from collapse before the rescue deal was arranged.

It saw the majority shareholder put up £20m in loans for Patisserie, with £10m of this being repaid by shareholders through the £15m raised by the issue of new shares.

Not all shareholders voted for the measure, however, with investor Angus Forbes urging the board to reconsider the proposals at the meeting.

“If we get fresh shareholders coming in now, frankly I want the company to go to hell. This should be an action of solidarity not one with new shareholders,” he said.

Invesco declined to comment.