Berendsen has sold 50million of its Rentokil Initial plc shares at a price of 237p per share, reducing its stake in the company from 5.2% to 2.6%.

The capital gain from the sale amounts to around £118million (DKK1,435.9million). According to Danish tax rules the capital gain is tax-free, and it will be taken to the profit and loss account as extraordinary income in the second quarter of 2001.

Berendsen has agreed not to sell the rest of its Rentokil Initial shares in a period of 90 days following the sale, although the company is known to have said on record that it wants to reduce its holding of shares.