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BUSINESS NEWS JAN 22, 2008
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Origin Enterprises plc to acquire Masstock Group Holdings for Stg£26.3m

Origin Enterprises plc, the 2007 spinoff of foods' group IAWS, today announced that it has reached agreement to acquire Masstock Group Holdings Limited.

Masstock, with operations in the United Kingdom and Poland, and formerly a large dairy processing operation in Saudi Arabia, is a leading provider of specialist agronomy services directly to arable and grassland farm enterprises. Masstock, which has been synonymous with the development of state-of-the art farming systems throughout the world, was established in the 1970's through the vision of two leading Irish entrepreneurs Paddy and Alistair McGuckian.

The initial consideration for the equity share capital of Masstock will be Stg£26.3m. Deferred consideration of up to Stg£10m will be payable based on the achievement of profit targets over the period to July 2012. Masstock generated a turnover of Stg£250.6m for the year ending 30 June 2007 and operating profit before non recurring items and goodwill amortisation amounted to Stg£6.8m. Masstock had net tangible assets of Stg£23.6m at 30 June 2007 and net debt of Stg£30.6m.

The acquisition is being funded by additional bank facilities. It is expected that the acquisition will be earnings enhancing for Origin from the date of completion which is expected in early February 2008.

The existing management team led by Declan Giblin as Group CEO, David Cribbin as Managing Director for the UK business and Graham Harris as Managing Director of the Polish business, who have been responsible for the development of Masstock over the past twenty years will be remaining with the Group.

Commenting on the acquisition, Tom O'Mahony, Chief Executive of Origin said: "Masstock provides system-based solutions directly to over 10,000 farm businesses throughout the United Kingdom and Poland. This leading approach delivers a fully integrated production system, based on a superior research and on-farm agronomy management. The business combines an extensive arable research and development capability with a major sales, marketing and distribution focus, delivering a superior advisory and inputs offering to leading growers. The service encompasses varietal selection, nutrition, crop protection and application techniques necessary to ensure high performing marketable crops, which adhere to the highest levels of safety, quality, sustainability and environmental requirements."

"The acquisition of Masstock significantly enhances Origin's capability to support primary food production. The structural shifts taking place globally in the form of rising food demand and an increased awareness of agriculture as an alternative supplier of energy is placing an enormous focus on best farming practice and soil protection techniques required to deliver sustainable productivity. Masstock has the capability, expertise and proven ability to respond to this changing dynamic which combined with the geographical spread of its business presents a new exciting growth opportunity for Origin."

Commenting on the transaction, Masstock Group CEO, Declan Giblin said: "The acquisition represents an important milestone in the development of Masstock. We will become an integral part of a leading organisation focussed on the value added and primary sectors of the food industry enabling us to leverage a combined capability within an exciting market environment."

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