Three wise men crumble at Müller’s offer

Posted on 16 Jan 2012

Wiseman Dairies, Britain’s biggest supplier of fresh milk was snapped up today for £279.5m after months of negotiations.

Robert Wiseman Dairies, which supplies the UK with around a third of its fresh milk, agreed a 390p-a-share cash bid from Bavaria-based dairy group Müller, resulting in the dairy being valued at £279.5m. The 390p-a-share cash offer represents a 60 per cent premium on Wiseman Dairy’s closing price on January 12.

After talks between the two companies began in October last year, there were a number of stalls in the negotiation process as the competitiveness of the UK market became a point of concern for Müller.

The deal values the two brothers that ran the company at £83m – Robert Wiseman Sr stepped down in 2010 after 36 years running the company. One source made it clear that Robert Wiseman would be welcomed and encouraged to have a role in the running of the company. The indication was that the current management would remain in place.

The money from the sale will be split among the three brothers, with chief executive Robert Wiseman receiving £49m, his older brother Alan, now retired, receiving £34m and the youngest brother Gavin pocketing £8m.

Chief executive of Müller, Heiner Kamps, said: “This is an exciting strategic move by Müller to enter a new market segment in the UK. The combination of these complementary businesses will form a leading dairy player. This will create significant opportunities, which will benefit suppliers, customers, consumers and employees.”

Michael McCann, Labour MP for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow voiced his concerns that jobs would be lost in the local area, where the company has provided employment for many decades.

Wiseman’s communications director warned that cuts to employment were impossible to rule out and pointed out that Müller already had operations in the West Midlands: “Upon taking control, [Müller] will want to review the business and may identify certain operational changes. They already have a yoghurt business in Market Drayton.”