Ipswich/Bury St Edmunds: Animal feed group BOCM Pauls sold to ForFarmers in �71m deal

SUFFOLK-based animal feed manufacturer BOCM Pauls is to be acquired by the Dutch group ForFarmers in a deal valued at more than �70million, it was revealed today.

BOCM Pauls, which has its headquarters just outside Ipswich and operates 11 mills and seven blending plants around the country, is the UK’s biggest animal feed manufacturer, selling around two million tonnes of product a year.

ForFarmers, based at Lochem, in the east of the Netherlands, is a leading feed supplier in Europe, where it also recently acquired the Hendrix compound feed business, which has plants in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, from Nutreco.

The deal for BOCM Pauls, which involves the purchase of all the shares in its parent company, Agricola Group, values the UK business at 85million euros (about �71.3m) after an adjustment for a pension fund deficit, plus a deferred sum from surplus property.

Although agreed by Agricola, the deal remains subject to approval by ForFarmers’s shareholders and to clearance by the European Union competition authorities.

The combined ForFarmers and Hendrix businessess sell around 6.5million tonnes of feeds annually in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.

BOCM Pauls’ chief executive, Bill Mayne, said: “The acquisition of BOCM Pauls will create a new group which will be the clear market leader in Europe with feed sales of around 8.8million tonnes. The financial strength of the new group and the scale of its operations will create competitive advantage and will benefit employees and customers alike.”

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BOCM Pauls was formed in 1992 through the merger of BOCM Silcock and Pauls Agriculture, but it can trace its history back to the incorporation of R&W Paul Ltd in 1893.

In 1998 BOCM Pauls was acquired from the conglomerate Elementis through a management buy-out, backed by Electra Fleming, with a refinancing in 2000 leaving the business 89% owned by its directors and management.

The company currently employs around 1,000 people across its operations which in East Anglia include mills at Rougham, near Bury St Edmunds, and Burston, near Diss, as well as its head office in Valley Lane, Wherstead.

“BOCM Pauls will operate as the UK feed company of ForFarmers Group and will trade with a high degree of autonomy. ForFarmers Group is committed to supporting further investment and growth for BOCM Pauls and to creating opportunities for our employees within the new group”, added Mr Mayne.

“This change represents an excellent opportunity for all stakeholders in the business giving a clear direction for BOCM Pauls for the long term benefit of our customers and employees.

“This new direction for BOCM Pauls comes at a time of renewed opportunity for the UK food and farming industry and provides the company with the resources and financial strength to ensure its future success as part of the number one company in Europe and one of the largest feed companies in the world.”

Bert-Jan Ruumpol, chief executive of the ForFarmers Group, said: “The acquisition of BOCM Pauls is a major step in the international growth ambition of the ForFarmers Group. All companies within the ForFarmers Group can use each others resources which will provide great opportunities for all involved.”