Boparan closes in on Northern Foods takeover

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The Independent Online

Greencore, the Irish maker of convenience foods, has refused to rule out making a counter-bid for Northern Foods, despite Ranjit Boparan securing the backing of more than two-thirds of shareholders of the maker of Goodfella's pizza for the £342m takeover offer he has tabled.

Mr Boparan, the poultry processing entrepreneur, has revealed that he now has the backing of 23 per cent of Northern Foods' shareholders, which combined with his 11.4 per cent stake, means he has secured the support of 34.4 per cent of them.

Northern Foods switched sides to the higher offer made by Mr Boparan – who owns Two Sisters Food Group, the biggest supplier of chicken tosupermarket Tesco – in January having agreed a nil-premium merger with Greencore in November.

But a spokesman for Greencore said yesterday: "[We are] still considering options in relation to Northern Foods and a further announcement will be made in due course."

Greencore has been courting private equity firms but a concrete bid has not yet emerged. Shares in Northern Foods edged up by 0.38p to 73.88p yesterday, suggesting that while the City holds little hope of Greencore coming back with an improved offer it has not given up.

Mr Boparan – who also owns the Harry Ramsden's and Fish Works restaurants – has extended his offer deadline until 16 March. After posting his offer document on 9 February, he has until 10 April to receive therequired 75 per cent of votes to make his bid unconditional.

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