Boparan Holdings has yet to make a takeover bid for Northern Foods, which said today (13 January) it was co-operating with the poultry-to-fish group but still wanted to merge with Ireland’s Greencore.

Northern is planning to combine with fellow own-label manufacturer Greencore to create Essenta Foods, a business supplying UK multiples that will have annual sales of GBP1.7bn (US$2.7bn).

However, Boparan Holdings, run by food tycoon entrepreneur Ranjit Boparan, has indicated that it is considering making a takeover bid for Northern. Last week, the City’s Takeover Panel set Boparan Holdings a deadline of 21 January to state whether or not it will table an offer.

In a trading update today, Northern said it had been “co-operating” with Boparan Holdings and “providing information” to the business. However, it said that “no offer proposal” had been made and added that there was no certainty a bid would be tabled.

Northern said its board – and directors at Greencore – continued to believe that the companies’ plan to merge was a “compelling opportunity” for both businesses.

Northern argued Essenta Foods would be “a leading player in the fast-growing convenience foods sector”. It would be “a scale business with a strong platform for growth” and, Northern added, would generate synergies of GBP40m.

Greencore and Northern shareholders will vote on the merger plans on 31 January.