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Greencore bids £113m for M&S supplier Uniq

Greencore, the UK's biggest maker of sandwiches, has agreed to acquire the convenience food supplier Uniq in a deal worth £113m, which it expects to deliver annual savings of £10m.

The Dublin-based firm is to pay 96p per Uniq share, which is a 26 per cent premium to the company's closing price on Monday. Greencore, which also makes ready meals, will fund the acquisition through a €80.2m fully-underwritten five for six rights issue at €0.46 per share and a new expanded debt facility.

Uniq delivers more than half of its revenues from supplying Marks & Spencer with food to go, mainly sandwiches and desserts.

But it faced an uncertain future due to its £400m plus pension liabilities until its pension fund acquired control of Uniq in a "pension deficit for equity" deal in February.

Greencore is keen to acquire Uniq to build scale in the convenience food market and to grow through acquiring new customers – notably with M&S. Greencore tried to merge with rival Northern Foods last year but lost out to the food tycoon Ranjit Boparan.

The Irish firm's revenues rose 11 per cent in the quarter to 1 July, but it warned trading in the UK has been "challenging and volatile during 2011".