The owner of a UK poultry processing firm at the centre of a poor food hygiene investigation is said to be orchestrating a merger between Fox’s Biscuits and Burton’s Biscuit Co.
Sky News reported sources as saying the deal would amount to around GBP400m (US$525m) and would result in a share offering from the newly-formed company and a listing on the London Stock Exchange. Ranjit Boparan owns Fox’s Biscuits through Boparan Holdings.
Boparan is also the owner of the UK’s 2 Sisters Food Group, which was the subject of an undercover probe by The Guardian newspaper and ITV News that alleged workers at the firm’s West Bromwich factory in the West Midlands tampered with slaughter date labels on fresh chickens, raising food safety concerns over use-by dates. The Food Standards Agency has since launched its own investigation and said on 6 October it was in the course of inspecting 13 of the company’s factories in England and Wales.
UK biscuit maker Burton’s brands include Wagon Wheels, Maryland Cookies and Jammie Dodgers. The company has been owned by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan – the owner of National Lottery operator Camelot Group – since 2013.
Clive Sharpe, a former boss of the snacks manufacturer Golden Wonder, has been lined up to become chief executive of the new company, while Cenkos, the investment bank, is leading efforts to float it on the London market, Sky reported on 6 October.
The latest discussions about a possible merger are said to have been underway for months. A potential deal had been touted back in January when Boparan Holdings said in a filing to the Luxembourg Stock Exchange that it had “received a preliminary approach for Fox’s Biscuits – the trading name of Northern Foods Grocery Group Limited. The group’s expectation is that any formal offer for Fox’s Biscuits/NFGG would be at a valuation in the region of GBP350m.”