Newlat, the Italy-based food manufacturer, has halted negotiations to buy UK tinned fish and beverage business Princes after seeing its latest offer rejected.

In December, Newlat, which already owns UK food manufacturer Symington’s, confirmed it was involved in the race to buy Princes from Japan-based conglomerate Mitsubishi Corp, saying it was at a “very advanced stage”.

However, the Italian group said on Friday (16 February) in a filing that it had submitted a new bid for Princes which accounted for softening demand and lower inflation in the UK’s “difficult market environment”. Mitsubishi Corp. rejected the new proposal.

Newlat stated that it remained open to a deal should the Princes owner change its mind on its latest proposal.

The Italian group added: “In any case, the company confirms its acquisition profile and the continuous search for growth opportunities through external lines, supported by a growing availability of its own resources and the presence of important financial partners who were ready to give their full support to the group faced with this great opportunity and which we are certain will not fail to support us in the future.”

Mitsubishi acquired Liverpool-based Princes in 1989. At that time, Princes focused mainly on the import and distribution of shelf-stable food such as tinned fish. The company’s product range now also includes edible oils and beverages.

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Sky News reported in December that the asking price was around £400m ($503m) for the company.

Last month, Princes revealed it moved into the red in its last full financial year. It reported a loss attributable to its owners of £42.7m in the 12 months to the end of March 2023 – against a profit of £17.2m a year earlier.

Turnover stood at £1.74bn, against £1.44bn in the 12 months previous. Higher selling prices helped Princes’ top line, it said.