MEMBERS OF First Milk have voted in favour of buying a 15% stake in dairy processor Robert Wiseman for £28.3m.

There was unanimous support for the move at First Milk‘s Annual General Meeting on Nov 16, said the co-op.

Wiseman, which is quoted on the stock exchange, has a market value of £178m, according to City analysts Investec, who consider it a sound purchase.

Members have agreed to fund the acquisition by contributing 0.5p/litre into an investment account programme until March 2007. They currently receive 18p for a standard litre.

Payments to the programme begin in December, and could also cover future investments. FM stressed that all funds raised for investments from members are credited to individual ‘named‘ accounts, and are redeemable at a later date.

First Milk is buying into Wiseman in order to expand its downstream presence in the processing industry to help secure its market and stabilise price fluctuations.

A spokesman said: “We are endeavouring to get further up the supply chain and get closer to the consumer. Only that way will you get the best possible returns.”