Greencore rises after speculation

THE shares of Greencore Group, whose focus is the own-brand convenience food sector in Britain, rose 2.99% to €2.99 yesterday, following speculation about its future.

The price rise followed conflicting reports in London that the Irish food group has hired Barclays to advise it on its future strategy.

The Daily Telegraph said the Dublin company is working with advisers at Barclays Capital to examine a possible takeover of all or part of Uniq food group.

The deal would probably value Uniq at close to £100 million (€114m).

The bank is working with the Irish company on a range of consolidation options, the newspaper said.

Uniq was effectively put up for sale last month after a restructuring that put the food group’s pension fund trustees in control of the company.

The London Independent newspaper said that bankers were being retained to find a buyer for the company.

A Greencore spokesman refused to make any comment on the reports, but pointed out that the company sees itself as having a role to pay in the consolidation of the food sector in Britain.

Earlier this year, Greencore lost out to Boparan in the takeover for Northern Foods, with which it had agreed a merger back in November 2010.

That deal was a cashless merger, with Patrick Coveney of Greencore set to take over as boss of the merged entity that would have had a combined takeover of around €2 billion. Indian businessman Ranjit Boparan eventually won out.

The markets regarded the price as over generous or a bit “steamy”.

Irish brokers urged Greencore to steer clear of a bidding war, warning it would undermine shareholder value.

The group is due to publish interim results today.


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