Northern Foods war heats up

Marion Dakers
Chicken tycoon Ranjit Singh Boparan has been forced to extend the deadline on his £342m offer for Northern Foods after just 23 per cent of the firm’s shareholders other than himself accepted the bid by yesterday’s cut-off.

The delay gives rival Greencore and its adviser Barclays Capital two more weeks to prepare a counter-offer in the hopes of resurrecting its merger plans with Northern.

It is thought that most of the shareholders who held out are institutional investors, who hope that the expected Greencore bid will bolster the final price.

Boparan must gain 75 per cent approval for his cash bid before a new 16 March deadline. He now has 34.4 per cent approval including his 11.4 per cent stake.

Greencore declined to comment yesterday, but has been considering its options since Boparan moved to break up its planned merger in December.