Boparan races to prepare an offer for Northern before its takeover deadline

Marion Dakers
CONVENIENCE foods tycoon Ranjit Boparan is gearing up to make an offer for Northern Foods ahead of his Takeover Panel deadline of Friday, a person familiar with the matter said yesterday.

Boparan asked bankers at Rothschild to examine Northern’s books last month, and is racing to complete due diligence and make an announcement this week before its put up or shut up deadline at 5pm on 21 January.

Northern, the maker of Fox’s biscuits and the Goodfella’s pizza brand, announced plans to merge with Irish peer Greencore to create Essenta in November.

But Boparan, who owns the Harry Ramsden restaurant chain as well as the biggest chicken producer in Europe, has said publicly the merger represents a poor deal for investors.

Credit Suisse published a note yesterday speculating that Boparan is likely to offer between 60p and 65p per share for Northern, valuing the company at up to £300m.

The note was circulated by Boparan’s spokespeople, although they would not comment on the likelihood of a firm offer.

Northern shares gained 2.5 per cent to close at 61.5p yesterday, well above the 45.5p level seen before the merger was announced.

Northern and Greencore shareholders are set to vote on the team-up on 31 January.