SHARES in Origin Enterprises surged more than 6pc yesterday, amid reports that a top private equity house had made a bid for the company.
Lion Capital, which already controls frozen foods group Findus and Weetabix, as well as the Wagamama chain of Asian restaurants, is believed to have tabled a £400m (€463m) bid for the agri-business company. That would value the company at €3.50 a share -- a 12pc premium on Friday's closing price of €3.10.
Origin is 71pc owned by Aryzta, which was a previous Lion investment. Neither Aryzta nor Origin would comment on the reports but market watchers said a bid in its current form was not likely to succeed. Aryzta are thought to be open to a sale of Origin at the right price but are in no hurry to do a deal.
"Aryzta is expected to be looking to exit the business so a bid will likely be well received, but at only a 12pc premium to Friday's closing price and 4pc discount to the average price over the last six months, [this] is a little on the low side," said NCB's Darren Greenfield. A bid at €4.10 would be a "more realistic price", he added.
Origin closed up 6.45pc at €3.30.