Boparan eyes Northern bid

Marion Dakers
NORTHERN Foods yesterday confirmed it had been approached by rival Boparan Holdings about a possible cash takeover offer, less than a month after it agreed to a merger with Irish food manufacturer Greencore.

Boparan, the owner of Harry Ramsden’s restaurants and the biggest chicken producer in Europe, has been granted access to Northern’s financials after writing to the company last week.

Ranjit Boparan, the millionaire behind the interest, has hired Rothschild to advise on a possible offer. He has increased his shareholding in Northern Foods from less than three per cent to 6.6 per cent since the Greencore merger was announced on 17 November.

The current merger represents a nil premium to shareholders, which several insiders said would likely be bettered if a rival proposal does emerge.

Northern and Greencore both released statements reiterating their boards’ support for the existing deal to create a new firm, Essenta. An EGM to approve the deal is scheduled for 31 January.

Northern Foods bounced up 4.1 per cent to close at 63p yesterday, while Greencore fell 6.5 per cent to €1.25.