Clive Beddall Speculation that the Danes were preparing to make Unigate "an offer it can't refuse" for its Malton Bacon Co subsidiary was sweeping the European pigmeat sector as The Grocer went to press. Suggestions that the "jewel in the crown of the UK bacon trade" might be a target for the £4bn Danish Crown, the Danes' most powerful slaughterhouse group, first surfaced last summer. But the renewed talk has followed last week's deal in which Unigate agreed to merge its dairy and cheese business with Dairy Crest. It is understood that DC "looked hard" at Malton last year but backed off before making a firm bid. While the deal was said to have been seen as highly logical by certain Danish factory executives, they faced a formidable task in convincing their farmer owners that they could digest the mighty Malton at a time of great structural change among Danish co-operatives. This week, Unigate ceo Sir Ross Buckland declined to comment on specific speculation, beyond saying: "I have always said that if someone came along with a bag of money relative to any of our businesses and it was significantly higher than the value of the business to the company, then we would look very seriously at selling. It would not just be irresponsible, it would be bordering on the illegal not to do that." Reliable Copenhagen sources, meanwhile, said an early bid from Denmark was unlikely. But one warned: "I would certainly not rule it out for ever. The deal would make real sense for us." {{NEWS }}