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Harry Ramsden owner bids for Goodfella's pizza firm

On Saturday 22 January 2011, 11:11 EST

The owner of the Harry Ramsden's fish and chip restaurants has made a 342 million pounds bid for Goodfella's Pizza-maker Northern Foods.

Northern's management are recommending that shareholders accept the offer, made by Ranjit Singh Boparan's investment company Boparan Holdings on Friday night.

Previously, Northern's management had recommended that shareholders vote for the merger with Greencore they announced in November that would see the the creation of a new company Essenta Foods.

Boparan wants to merge Northern, which also makes Fox's biscuits, into his Two Sisters chicken processing business to create a food giant with 2 billion pounds in annual sales.

Boparan was issued with a "put up or shut up" order by the Takeover Panel, which gave him until 5pm on Friday to make a bid for the Leeds-based food manufacturer.

But five minutes before the deadline passed, the panel granted him an extension until 7pm. At 7.30pm, the details of his bid were announced.

His cash offer of 73p per share is at a 61.3 percent premium to the closing share price of 45.3p per share on November 16 when the merger was announced and more than 10p above of Friday's closing share price of 62.8p.

Boparan said: "The combined group will be one of Britain's major food suppliers with a turnover of more than 2 billion pounds."

Northern Foods chairman Anthony Hobson described it as "a compelling offer".

Boparan now has 28 days to write to shareholders to inform them of a timetable for a vote on the acquisition.

In the meantime, Northern's management are recommending that shareholders vote against the Greencore merger on January 31.

Bromwich-based Two Sisters specialises in supplying raw chicken and prepared chicken products, with brands including Buxted Original and The Devonshire Red.

It has 11 factories in the UK, seven in Holland and one in Poland, employing a total of 7,000 people. The group's most recent earnings totalled 46 million pounds on sales of 739 million.

Northern is one of the biggest suppliers of own-label products in the UK, with sales of 977 million pounds last year.

It makes pies, sandwiches, salads, puddings and ready meals from sites including the Gunstones Bakery near Sheffield and its Fox's biscuits factory near Preston.