The possible buyout could lead to the breakup of the Netherlands-based group, leaving the food machinery arm as a possible takeover target for other companies. Or Candover could decide to make it a stand-alone company. No one was available for comment at Candover this morning. However media reports quoting inside sources indicate that a number of Stork shareholders and private equity groups are preparing counter offers. Delta Lloyd has said it will not sell its 5.2 per cent stake in Stork to Candover, while Iceland-based Marel, has indicated it is unwilling to turn over its 11 per cent holding in the company. Meanwhile shareholders Centaurus and Paulson, which hold a combined 33 per cent stake in the company, have already committed their holdings to Candover. Centaurus and Paulson are behind the shareholder push last year to break-up Stork, which is involved Centaurus and Paulson led a shareholder rebellion last year against management strategy, calling for the breakup of the company. Candover has made its bid conditional on its acquiring at least 80 per cent of Stork shares. Stork's food systems division accounts for 16 per cent of the company's net turnover. The division mainly manufacturers production lines for poultry, meat, dairy, juice and liquid food products markets. The division had a turnover of €326m in 2006 out of a total company turnover of €2bn. The company claims to be the world market leader in skinning and sausage production equipment and among the top three companies producing machines for convenience food items and meal components. In the dairy sector it claims to be the leader in UHT processing systems. Stork's food and dairy systems unit became part of the Stork food systems unit on 30 June last year. The company also made additional investments in its food and dairy systems to beef up its product portfolio. Last year Stork also acquired Townsend, a meat processing equipment maker in the US, as part of its growth strategy. In September the company acquired Nijal Technologie Alimentaire, a processing machine maker in France. The acquisition is part of the company's bid to become a bigger supplier to the meat industry. Nijal produces equipment for the high-speed production of shish kebabs, sandwiches, meatballs, formed ground meat products and sausages. It also produces equipment for denesting trays and automatic tray loading.