Ranjit Singh Boparan, the hugely-successful UK food industry entrepreneur, yesterday won the battle for control of Northern Foods, after the maker of Goodfella's pizzas and Fox's biscuits agreed to back his £342-million all-cash offer and withdrew the agreed merger with Ireland's Greencore Group.
Northern Foods succumbed to a high-premium all-cash bid from Boparan Holdings Limited after agreeing two month ago to a "merger-of-equals" with Greencore that would see the creation of a new company called Essenta Foods.
Boparan's 11th hour bid came after the UK Takeover Panel issued a "put up or shut up" order until 5:00pm yesterday, but the Midlands-based chicken entrepreneur was able to table a bid that was 54-per cent higher than Greencore.
Boparan's £342 million all-cash offer is £106 million more than the £236 million all-share proposal put forward by Greencore for the Leeds-based food manufacturer.
His cash offer was 73 pence per share or a premium of 61.3 to the closing share price of 45.3p per share on 16 November, the day both Northern Foods and Greencore announced the merger. Greencore's offer is 48.2 pence per share at current share prices.
Anthony Hobson, chairman of Northern Foods said, ''This attractive cash offer …. is a compelling opportunity for our shareholders to realise a cash exit, and as such the Board of Northern Foods will be unanimously recommending that Northern Foods Shareholders accept Boparan's offer.''