Wednesday 21 March 2018

Greencore to face opposition over new Northern Foods bid

Peter Flanagan

A NEW bid by Greencore for Northern Foods is likely to face stiff opposition from Northern Foods' pension trustees if it involves breaking up the company.

Greencore is said to be exploring the possibility of bringing in a partner to make a joint bid for the company but analysts have played down the chances of such a bid succeeding.

The Irish company is locked in a battle for control of Northern Foods, a UK company that counts Goodfella's pizza and Fox's biscuits among its brands. Greencore had agreed to merge with Northern last year but the Northern board has since backed an all-cash bid for the company from the businessman Ranjit Boparan.

Mr Boparan had to pledge not to break up the company in order to have his bid accepted -- something a joint bid would be unable to do.

"A partnership could imply the splitting up of Northern Foods. However, Mr Boparan has already agreed to not break up the company without pension trustee agreement, which suggests a counterbid that included a break-up would face trustee resistance," said Bloxham Stockbrokers.

Meanwhile, Greencore has appointed a new chief financial officer, two months after the resignation of Geoff Doherty. Alan Williams will take over as CFO on March 7.

Mr Williams is a former senior executive with Cadbury in the US and France. Imelda Hurley, who has been the acting CFO since the departure of Mr Doherty in December, will revert to being group finance director.

Chief executive Patrick Coveney described Mr Williams as a "great addition" to Greencore. "He has extensive experience in the food and beverage sector at Cadbury, combined with an extraordinary range of financial expertise," he said.

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