The owner of the Harry Ramsden’s restaurants has made a £342 million bid for Goodfella’s Pizza-maker Northern Foods.
Northern’s management are recommending that shareholders accept the offer, made by Ranjit Singh Boparan’s investment company Boparan Holdings.
Previously, Northern’s management had recommended that shareholders vote for the merger with Greencore they announced in November that would see the the creation of a new company Essenta Foods.
Mr Boparan wants to merge Northern, which also makes Fox’s biscuits, into his Two Sisters chicken processing business to create a food giant with £2 billion sales annually.
Mr Boparan was issued with a “put up or shut up” order by the Takeover Panel, which gave him until 5pm yesterday to make a bid for the Leeds-based food manufacturer.
But five minutes before the deadline passed, the panel granted him an extension until 7pm. At 7.30pm, the details of his bid were announced.
His cash offer of 73p per share is at a 61.3% premium to the closing share price of 45.3p per share on November 16 when the merger was announced and more than 10p in excess of Friday’s closing share price of 62.8p.
Mr Boparan claims his offer is better value for shareholders than the merger. He said: “The combined group will be one of Britain’s major food suppliers with a turnover of more than £2 billion.
“This will create significant opportunities which will benefit customers, consumers and employees. We look forward to working with the experienced Northern Foods team and combining our skills in product innovation and customer partnerships to create a larger business with enhanced prospects.”
Northern Foods chairman Anthony Hobson described it as “a compelling offer”. Mr Boparan now has 28 days to write to shareholders to inform them of a timetable for a vote on the acquisition.