NORTHERN Foods reported in line Christmas trading yesterday, as its acting chief executive said the door was open for tycoon Ranjit Boparan to make a counter bid that could derail its merger plans.
Northern Foods is set to put its £1.7bn merger with Irish food manufacturer Greencore to a shareholder vote on 31 January, but Simon Herrick said the board would look at alternatives.
“If an offer came in we’d have to consider it and price is going to be key. Our fiduciary duty as board members is to make sure we have considered employees and other stakeholders as well but price will obviously be a key issue,” Herrick said yesterday.
Boparan has until 21 January to make a firm offer, following a Takeover Panel ruling.
Herrick’s comments contrast with a letter from Northern that emerged yesterday, which criticised its former bank Rothschild for advising Boparan on its takeover interest.
Northern claimed that Rothschild has confidential information that could help Boparan’s advances, which the bank denied.
Banking sources said such letters are commonplace in M&A when a financial adviser switches sides, but are normally not made public.