UPDATE: UK: Vion plant bidder Graf criticises bid rejection

By Michelle Russell | 16 October 2012

 Vion said it would shutter the facility in February in a phased process

Vion said it would shutter the facility in February in a phased process

One of the bidders for Vion's Hall's of Broxburn site said the Dutch food group has been "far from honest" throughout the sale process after its offer was rejected.

Earlier this month, Vion said it would close the UK facility in a phased process that will start this month, unless a suitable buyer was found.

The company had said it was in talks with interested parties over the potential sale of the site, with two bids understood to have been made. However, in an update today, the company reaffirmed that the site will still close, with none of the bids received having provided a "viable alternative".

However, the managing director of one of the bidders, Graf Mortgage Corp., said that "at no stage" of the discussions did the company feel the plant was for sale.

"We always had a concern that Vion had another agenda, which was to close the factory and move production to another factory," Steve Green told just-food. "They've not said yes, they've not asked a question, and not even confirmed if we are in the ball park."

Green said Vion had suggested a sale figure of GBP45m (US$72.5m), which he claimed was "a ridiculous figure" given the plant was losing GBP85,000 per day.

"We have an email chain between ourselves and Vion saying we were looking to keep on the 1,200 permanent staff and the 500 seasonal workers. But Vion said we gave them no reassurance on headcount going forward, which is a silly argument."

Green said he has emailed the board of directors of Vion and the Scottish government to undertake "transparent dialogue" on the rejection.

"If Vion thinks my bid is not viable then let's get to the bottom of it," Green said. "Vion think they're the smartest guys in the room and they've been far from honest throughout this process."

A spokesperson for Vion said a lack of necessary information meant it was "forced to assume" Graf Mortgage Corp "could not be viewed as a credible bidder".

"This was a particularly disappointing outcome since the indication that Graf Mortgage Corporation would present a viable and sustainable business plan for the business had undoubtedly raised hopes amongst our employees," it said.

Sectors: Meat & poultry, Mergers & acquisitions

Companies: Vion

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