Germans swallow dairy giant Wiseman in £280m deal

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The Independent Online

The first big takeover of the year was sealed yesterday as Britain's biggest milk producer Robert Wiseman agreed a £280m bid from Germany's yoghurts and desserts giant Müller.

The Wiseman family, which still owns 35 per cent of the shares, and investors with another 20 per cent have already agreed the 390p cash offer. That is at a 60 per cent premium to the price at which Wiseman shares were trading before it revealed the bid approach last Friday.

The deal will produce welcome fees for both sides' City advisers, with Müller's Rothschild likely to pick up the best part of £2.1m and Wiseman's joint banks Greenhill and Investec set to share a similar amount.

Its executive chairman Robert Wiseman said: "The combination of Müller and Wiseman makes strong commercial and strategic sense, creating a leading integrated dairy business in the United Kingdom with complementary positions in the yoghurt and potted desserts market and the fresh milk market."

Wiseman's management will stay on to work for the family-owned Müller. The German company currently buys 219 billion litres of milk in the UK, none of it from Wiseman.

In a trading update yesterday Wiseman said while recent sales had been in line with management's expectations, rising diesel prices and lower cream prices over Christmas meant conditions remained "challenging".

The company, which was founded in 1949 and floated on the stock market in 1994, accounts for a third of all milk sold in the UK.

Charles Pick, an analyst at Numis Securities, said: "The logic to the deal seems thin. But the latest Wiseman trading statement highlights continuing trading pressure."