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Last Updated: Friday, 19 August 2005, 16:15 GMT 17:15 UK
Thorntons in bid talks with chief
Thorntons' chocolates
Sales at Thorntons' own stores are not faring so well
Shares in chocolatier Thorntons have surged on news the firm has received a takeover offer from its chairman.

In a statement, the group confirmed it was in "preliminary discussions" with executive chairman Christopher Burnett.

Those talks "may or may not lead to a cash offer" of 185 pence per share for the Derbyshire-based group through Mr Burnett's special bid vehicle Newco.

Thorntons shares closed 15.03%, or 23p higher at 176p on the London market after the news.

Early stage

The company underlined the fact that the talks were at an early stage and subject to a number of conditions - including satisfactory funding for Mr Burnett's bid, which is worth around 123m.

If the group does accept the offer it would end the company's 17-year run on the stock market.

Mr Burnett joined the company in April 2004 from Marshalls, the UK's biggest maker of concrete block paving.

In a July trading update, Thorntons announced total sales had risen 5% to 187.7m for the year ending 25 June, as branded product sales to other retailers more than doubled.

However, own shop sales dropped 2% to 134.1m, with the group blaming store closures for the fall.

Thorntons appoints new chairman
08 Apr 04 |  Business
Figures sweeten for Thorntons
22 Jan 04 |  Derbyshire
Potential suiters woo confectioner
29 Oct 03 |  Derbyshire

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