DIRECTORS OF Scotland‘s biggest livestock auctioneers, the UA Group, have reached agreement to sell the business to land development firm Elphinstone Land.

As part of the bid, Elphinstone has committed itself to continuing in livestock marketing and will pursue UA‘s existing strategy, which should see a new state-of-the-art market in Stirling. The current UA livestock marketing staff will also be retained.

The announcement was made to the London Stock Exchange on Tue (Nov 23) that the UA board unanimously recommended the offer, which values the share capital of the group at about £52 million.

The offer comprises £14.70 in cash for each UA ordinary share – a 96% premium over the Aug 27 closing price before discussions were announced – with £1 in cash for each UA preference share.

As well as its livestock marketing business, the UA Group also operates in the property and property services sector. Turnover for the year ended Jan 31, 2004 was £16.3m, with a £390,000 profit.

Peregrine Moncreiffe, UA chairman, said: “The UA board believes that the offers represent an opportunity for UA‘s shareholders to obtain a significant cash return from their original investment, leading the directors of UA to make this unanimous recommendation.

“Having dealt with Elphinstone over several years, the UA board believes that there is a close cultural compatibility between the two companies which will facilitate a smooth integration of the businesses.”