UAP future secured

UNCERTAINTY OVER the future of United Agri Products has been resolved by news of a management buy-out at the agronomy and ag chem. company.

Seven members of UAP’s top brass have finally struck a deal with the company’s US owner, ConAgra Foods, after a year of negotiation.

UAP’s chief executive, Steven Derbyshire, was tight-lipped about the value of the buy-out and the source of the financing behind it.

But a company spokesman said the price tag was a fair reflection of the value of UAP, which turned over in excess of £80m last year.

“All I’m really prepared to say is that the net assets of the business have gone up quite substantially as a result of the deal,” said Mr Derbyshire.

He also denied that the company had been sold because of financial problems.

“The UAP business model works. ConAgra are a $14bn business and have decided to go into food processing, quitting primary production.

“They have always been fairly distant owners in terms of influence over the business.

“This opportunity gives us more flexibility, but we will be focusing on managing the business tightly and efficiently in the short- to medium-term.”

Mr Derbyshire promised that the company’s prices or service would not change as a result of the buy-out. Nor were there any redundancies lined up.

UAP will keep its 83 agronomists in the field, serving 20% of the UK’s arable acreage, 25% of its vegetable area and 50% of its fruit area.

Roger Adshead, managing director of supply co-op Framlingham Farmers, welcomed what he described as a brave move by UAP executives to clarify the situation.

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