Boparan Holdings released a statement to the stock exchange this afternoon confirming that, as of 1pm today, 54.53% of Northern shareholders had accepted the 2 Sisters Food Group owner’s £342m all-cash offer for the company: 2 Sisters posted a £739m turnover in 2009, the last publicised accounting period.
Including the purchase of 13.61% of Northern’s shares on March 10, Boparan now holds or has agreed to acquire (conditional upon his offer being declared unconditional) 24.99% (117,118,761) of Northern’s shares, in addition to the acceptances from shareholders, making 79.52%.
Competition authority approval - expected to be a formality - is now the last hurdle standing that Boparan needs to cross, after which he plans to delist Northern (chilled, bakery and frozen foods including Goodfella's pizza and Fox's biscuits) from the stock market ahead of a merger with poultry business 2 Sisters to create a combined food group.
Irish convenience foods group Greencore pulled out of the running to buy Northern on March 9, after initially assuming pole position in the race after tabling an all-share offer last November.
Evolution Securities analyst Alex Sloane told FoodManufacture.co.uk last week: "To us the industrial logic of Greencore/Northern was more compelling [than the 2 Sisters tie-up] given the category overlap in chilled ready meals and salads; there were potentially more cost synergies and revenue opportunities over time."
Reflecting on the Irish firm's withdrawal from the Northern process, a Greencore spokesman said: "It's fair to say that clearly we're disappointed we weren't able to complete."
Asked if Greencore still had an appetite for further acquisitions, the spokesman said: "We firmly believe that further consolidation is important for the sector, and with that in mind I am sure we will consider our options for the future."