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Wiseman agrees £279m sale to Müller

East Kilbride, Scotland: Robert Wiseman Dairies is to be sold to Müller, the German-owned yoghurt maker.  Robert Wiseman Dairies said more than half of its shareholders have accepted a £279.5m takeover offer.

Although shareholders have yet to officially vote, it is being seen as “a done deal” by analysts, and will trigger a £98.1m windfall for the Wiseman family who own 35% of the shares.  Robert Wiseman, executive chairman of Wiseman, said the deal made “strong commercial and strategic sense”, by combining two leading dairy businesses.  The management of Wiseman will stay in their posts after the deal.

Wiseman said: “It is heartening to know that the business will become part of another family-owned business in Müller.

“Müller’s offer represents an attractive price for an outstanding business.”

Wiseman produces about a third of the fresh milk consumed in the UK and counts the Co-operative Group, Sainsbury’s and Tesco among its customers. Shares were up 19% today after gains of 34% on Friday when Wiseman said it was in talks with Muller.

Wiseman started in 1947 and operates six major processing dairies in Aberdeen, East Kilbride, Glasgow, Manchester, Droitwich Spa and Bridgwater, and employs 5,000 staff.

Wiseman’s share price has fallen dramatically in the past two years as it has struggled to pass on higher feed and fuel prices to supermarket customers amid fierce competition and a squeeze in consumer spending.

It recently said profits fell 42% to £11.8m in the six months to October 1 after it put up prices to farmers three times since March.

And today it warned that profits were likely to be hit in the first quarter of 2012 after a fall in bulk cream prices.

Shareholders are due to vote on the offer, which is some 60% higher than the company’s share price on Thursday, by February 6.