21 April 2000

Animal feed maker bids for rival

ANIMAL feed maker Carrs Billington Agriculture has announced a recommended offer to buy all the issued share capital of troubled north-west rival, AF.

CBA put forward its bid of £850,000 on the same day that farmer-owned AF reported a loss in 1999 of £300,000, excluding exceptionals, on a turnover of £49.1m. Losses on disposal of fixed assets and the elimination of goodwill amounted to a further £3.4m.

Chris Holmes, Carrs chief executive, said the intention was to integrate AF into CBA to form a bigger, more competitive business.

The bid, which values individual shares at 11p, is subject to approval by AF shareholders, many of whom are farmers. AF managing director Steven Clarke says his board is unanimous in recommending the offer to them. "The fit is there and we believe it is the right way forward for business in this area."

CBA, a joint venture between Carrs Milling Industries and Edward Billington and Son to make animal feed for the two companies agricultural subsidiaries, was formed in 1998. It has two mills, one in Staffs and one in Cumbria.

AF, a prospective founder member of Countrywide Farmers less than a year ago, also operates two mills, as well as six retail stores, and markets fertiliser, straight feeds and traded products. &#42