The UK's largest pigmeat processor may have been losing money for the best part of two years, but new buyer Grampian has made an "absolute steal" picking up a business turning over more than £500m for just £33.5m cash, said industry sources. Uniq finally disposed of Malton on Monday after months of protracted negotiations to find an "industry wide soultion" for its loss making subsidiary. As predicted by The Grocer, (July 28) the buyer is privately owned Scottish agribusiness Grampian Country Foods, which adds sales of £275m from pork processing to Malton's £510m. Malton was well regarded in the Danish market, and some senior figures in the Danish industry this week expressed regret that they had not bid for the company. The combined group will represent a significant force in UK slaughtering and processing, generating economies of scale and bolstering the group's clout with buyers. The slaughtering capacity of the new business will be 56,000 pigs a week. Lehman Bros analyst Nick Sochovsky said the prospects for the combined group were good if Grampian could capitalise on its economies of scale and reduce carcass wastage by selling parts of pigs spurned by UK multiples as export markets reopen. Before foot and mouth struck, exports were worth £30m a year to Malton. Grampian was unwilling to reveal its plans before it completes a review, although most observers said some reduction in processing capacity and staff was on the cards. It refused to reveal whether Malton's highly regarded chief executive Max Hilliard would stay with the company. "Surplus capacity has to be brought into line with throughput," said one industry source. "They have to get the cost base right. If you're not branded, you don't have a lot of clout, even a company this size." Grampian said it was confident it could restore Malton's fortunes. A spokesman said: "This is a strategic fit for us as we look to develop the pig side of the business." Analysts said a fresh pair of eyes and a new approach could make a big difference to Malton, pointing out that Grampian had managed to make a profit out of pigmeat this year while Malton plunged deeper into the red. {{NEWS }}