Blog: Snow falls but M&A activity heats up

Michelle Russell | 22 December 2010

Even in the run-up to Christmas, the M&A merry-go-round keeps on turning.

Following the news this week that French dairy co-op Sodiaal has finalised plans to buy cheese maker Entremont Alliance, another significant piece of M&A hit the headlines.

Dutch food ingredients group DSM announced yesterday (21 December) that it has struck a deal to buy US-based Martek Biosciences in an all-cash transaction worth US$1.09bn. The transaction, DSM said, will add a "new growth platform for healthy and natural food ingredients for infant formula and other food and beverage applications".

CEO and chairman Feike Sijbesma has insisted that the deal is a "very attractive and strategic opportunity" for the Dutch firm, and said that it now plans to expand Martek's "strong position" in infant formula worldwide.

The all-cash transaction sent DSM shares up almost 4% on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange yesterday and analysts agreed that DSM's acquisition of Martek could benefit both firms.

Petercam analyst Jan van den Bossche told just-food: "It is a logical step given that they had an exclusive supply relationship with Martek. They know each other already pretty well and extensively, so in that sense, from management and cultural integration points, it seems to be a very clean fit."

More M&A news emerged in the UK today with food tycoon Ranjit Boparan, a shareholder in Northern Foods, admitting he could launch a hostile takeover bid for the food maker. Northern, the UK food group, is planning to merge with Ireland's Greencore. Shareholders are set to vote on those plans next month.

Boparan has been amassing a stake in Northern since its plans to merge with Greencore were announced last month. He currently holds 6.6%. Will he table an offer for the business? We will more than likely have to wait until after Christmas?



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