Belfast Telegraph

Takeover deal could be scuppered by puddings

By Jamie Grierson

The humble Christmas pudding was the unlikely sticking point of a major deal today amid fears a proposed takeover could force up the price of the festive staple.

Boparan Holdings will be the owner of Christmas pudding firms Matthew Walker and Avana Bakeries - which combined sell £40 million worth of puddings each year - if a deal with food manufacturer Premier Foods completes.

Privately-owned Boparan, which owns brands including Fox's biscuits and Goodfella's pizzas, has offered to sell one of the businesses to appease the consumer watchdog, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

Amelia Fletcher, OFT chief economist and decision maker in this case, said: "We are concerned that this loss of competition could ultimately lead to price rises for consumers at a time of year which is already very costly for families."

Boparan, which acquired Matthew Walker in its takeover of Northern Foods, wants to buy Avana Bakeries from Premier Foods in what would be a £30m deal.

Ms Fletcher added: "The OFT is now considering the remedy offered by the parties to remove these competition concerns."