THE family behind Robert Wiseman Dairies is set for a windfall of nearly £100m after agreeing the sale of the firm to German group Müller.
Four members of the family – brothers Robert, Alan and Gavin Wiseman and Alan’s wife Margaret – who own 35 per cent of the milk producer, will pocket £98.1m from the £279.5m deal.
It marks one of the most dramatic days in the history of the Scottish firm, which started off selling milk from a family farm in East Kilbride in the 1940s and now provides 30 per cent of Britain’s milk.
Müller, which wants to grow its operations in Europe, agreed the deal after winning backing from the Wisemans and investors owning a further 20 per cent of stock.
The recommended cash offer of 390p per share is at a 60 per cent premium to Robert Wiseman shares’ close on Thursday, a day prior to the start of the offer.
Heiner Kamps, chief executive of the maker of Müller Corners, said the deal would create a “leading dairy player” in Britain, adding: “Müller and Wiseman have highly complementary businesses and furthermore share a proud heritage, drive and culture built upon family ownership.”
The deal comes at difficult time for the industry, however. Britain’s retailers are struggling to increase efficiency as rising prices and slowing growth in wages hit spending. Yesterday Wiseman said it expects fourth quarter profits to be hit due to higher prices for raw milk and diesel.
Analyst Clive Black at Shore Capital described Wiseman as a “class act” with the best levels of service in the industry but questioned how the new owner would be able to develop the dairy.
“[Müller] is gaining a very well invested and operated business; but through its residual excellence one that probably offers relatively few areas for operational improvement in the processing and milk distribution components of the business.”
Wiseman also faces increased competition from the UK arm of Arla, the Danish-Swedish dairy co-operative, which is building a one billion litre liquid milk processing facility in Buckinghamshire.
ADVISERS: GREENHILL AND INVESTEC
Investec, which acted for Wiseman, was represented by Keith Anderson, co-head of corporate broking, and Daniel Adams.
Anderson recently completed £112m in fund-raising for military equipment maker Chemring. He joined Investec in 2002, having previously been head of corporate broking at the old WestLB Panmure where he first advised the Wisemans.
Greenhill’s team was headed by Richard Hoyle, who moved from Credit Suisse First Boston in 2000. Hoyle advised Shanks when it rejected a takeover bid from buyout group Carlyle in 2009. He was joined by Greenhill managing director Seamus Moorhead.
Müller was advised by a Rothschild team consisting of Rupert Howard and Alex Masters, who advised Premier Foods on its £460m acquisition of Campbell Soup in 2006. Norton Rose acted as legal adviser.