UK poultry-to-fish group Boparan Holdings has won the level of support from Northern Foods shareholders that it needed to pursue its takeover of the Fox‘s biscuits maker.

Boparan said yesterday afternoon (23 March) that it had secured the backing of Northern investors holding over 76.8% of shares in the business.

Added to Boparan’s own stake in Northern, shareholders with over 79.5% of Northern have decided to support the GBP342m (US$553m) bid.

Boparan’s 73p-a-share offer will remain open “until further notice”, it said. Should investors holding 90% of Northern accept the bid, Boparan will then move to acquire all shares in the UK firm.

Clearance from the UK’s competition authorities is the remaining hurdle to Boparan. Once that is secured, Boparan will seek to have the trading in Northern shares on the London Stock Exchange cancelled. Boparan will then re-register Northern as a private limited company.

Boparan, owned by food tycoon Ranjit Boparan, made its move for Northern in January. Its bid scuppered plans Irish convenience food group Greencore’s plans to merge with Northern.

The board of directors at Northern, initially supportive of the plan to merge the company with Greencore, instead backed the Boparan bid.

Greencore did consider tabling a rival offer in tandem with an unnamed party – reported to be a private-equity firm – that would have seen the Irish firm sell some of Northern’s branded assets to its bid partner. That move was reject by the trustees of Northern’s pension fund deficit, which stands at over GBP140m.