In the wake of Müller’s successful bid to swallow up Robert Wiseman Dairies, Dairy Crest is now a takeover target, analysts have claimed.

On Monday, Unternehmensgruppe Theo Müller - the parent company of Müller Dairy (UK) - confirmed a cash offer of 390p per share for Wiseman, based on a valuation of £279.5m.

The move has turned the spotlight on to Dairy Crest, which has previously been the subject of takeover interest from France’s Lactalis. Following Müller’s bid on Friday (13 January), Dairy Crest’s share price rose from 315p to 326.4p.

Analysts Shore Capital stopped short of predicting that Dairy Crest “will be next”, but head of research Clive Black admitted that “in a reasonably active M&A period” interest in Dairy Crest Group as a takeover target would be raised.

Another source added: “Lactalis has long been looking at its options in the UK, and it would be natural for it to go for the market leader.”

The future of the quoted UK dairy sector was likely to lie in the hands of agricultural and private organisations, Shore Capital said. “We would not be surprised to see Dairy Crest group within a - probably European - farmer’s hands in due course,” added Black.

Last year, Dairy Crest denied it was for sale after Müller upped its shareholding to 3.04%, leading to speculation that it was preparing a takeover bid.

Dairy Crest said on Wednesday that it had not received any takeover interest in the wake of Friday’s deal.