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Woolworths (ASX:WOW) share price up, investors cheer demerger plan

The Woolworths Group Ltd (ASX: WOW) share price is up after updating investors about its demerger plans for Endeavour Group (including Dan Murphy’s).

What’s driving the Woolworths share price higher?

Woolworths’ board has decided that a demerger of Endeavour Group is the best option and will enhance shareholder value.

The demerger will include its drinks and hospitality businesses, including the hotels business called ALH.

If implemented, existing Woolworths shareholders will keep all their shares and get one new Endeavour Group share for each Woolworths share they own.

Woolworths Group and its long-term joint venture partner, Bruce Mathieson Group, will each hold a 14.6% interest in Endeavour Group at the time of the demerger.

The board of directors are unanimously recommended that shareholders vote in favour of the demerger. An independent expert called Grant Samuel has also concluded the demerger is in the best interests of shareholders.

What will the two businesses look like?

Woolworths said that Endeavour Group reported FY20 sales of $10.6 billion, EBIT (EBIT explained) of $693 million and underlying net profit of $328 million. Endeavour Group will include the biggest drinks store network including Dan Murphy’s and BWS. The ALH hotels business has 332 venues.

Endeavour Group intends to follow the established dividend policy of a payout ratio of 70% to 75% of net profit initially.

After the demerger, Woolworths will keep a strong balance sheet, with pro forma net cash (excluding lease liabilities) at 3 January 2021 of $75 million.

Capital returns

After the demerger has been completed, the board will consider some capital management options. Woolworths said that $1.6 billion to $2 billion could be returned to shareholders.

Management comments

Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci said: “We are excited to focus on our retail ecosystem with our customers and everyday needs at the core, while at the same time partnering with Endeavour Group. We are committed to creating better experiences together for a better tomorrow for all our stakeholders.”

Summary thoughts on the Woolworths share price

It will be interesting to see how the two separate businesses perform. Demergers can often be useful for both entities.

Woolworths is not too far off its all-time high. I’m not sure I’d want to buy shares of the supermarket business because of the limited growth optionality from here.

However, there are other ASX dividend shares which could provide more growth and/or more income.

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At the time of publishing, the author of this article does not have a financial or commercial interest in any of the companies mentioned.

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