US private equity firm swallows Richmond

Oaktree, based in Los Angeles, said its £182.2m, 750p-a-share cash offer already had the backing of about a half of Richmond's shareholders. It plans to combine Richmond, which owns Nestle ice cream in Britain and makes Fab, Zoom and Orange Maid ice lollies, with its German ice cream business Roncadin. Richmond will also pay an interim dividend of 3p a share prior to completion, expected on 7 July.

The terms of the deal buoyed Richmond shares. They rose 40.5p to 742p, valuing the company at almost £174m.

James Lambert, Richmond's chief executive, said: "With our customers all becoming pan-European, we needed a supplier base to match it. Being a small, publicly traded company, it was clear that we didn't have the right structure." He will remain with the company, but Ross Warburton will step down as chairman after the transaction.

Under the terms of the deal, Mr Lambert and two other executives will cash in shares worth £2.3m. Others to do nicely from the sale include Trevor Hemmings, the Blackpool Tower and Littlewoods Pools magnate, who owns 13 per cent of Richmond, and 11 per cent shareholder Alastair Salvesen, part of the family that made its fortune in logistics.

Mr Warburton said yesterday that Richmond's independent directors believed the proposals represented "good value for the business" and that shareholders would be able to sell at a significant premium. Oaktree made its takeover attempt through Ruby Acquisitions, a special-purpose vehicle set up to chase the deal.

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