Irish government heads for clash with Greencore

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The Independent Online
GREENCORE, the Irish foods group, and the Irish government were on a collision course last night over the government's plans to sell its 30 per cent stake in the company to the highest bidder.

The company wants to link up with Archer-Daniels-Midlands of the US, which it introduced to the government, but the Irish Finance Ministry said it would give potential bidders until 24 March to make proposals.

It had originally intended to place the stake with institutions, but it received approaches from Irish companies as well as an international company, understood to be ADM.

The Finance Ministry said it would make its decision on the basis of 'price and compatibility and the long-term strategic development of Greencore as a major Irish food company which could consolidate and expand employment in the Irish economy'.

Sources in Dublin said the government perhaps believed it could get more for the stake than the 260p a share understood to be on offer from ADM, which valued the stake at Ir pounds 65m ( pounds 68m).

The company has ambitions to broaden its international base and would see an alliance with another relatively small Irish company as fruitless. It confirmed that it had introduced the international company to the government, but did not name ADM.

The company said: 'The board reserves its position in respect of its support for any other potential corporate investor.' Sources in Dublin discounted ADM's denial on Monday that it had reached a deal with Greencore.

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