Tue, Apr 29, 2014 - Page 15 News List

Iconic Australian food firm chastises Asian takeover bid

TOO LOW:Goodman Fielder chided a US$1.18 billion offer from Hong Kong’s First Pacific and Singapore’s Wilmar as ‘opportunistic’ and cheap


Australian food manufacturer Goodman Fielder Ltd yesterday turned down a joint Singapore and Hong Kong takeover bid valuing the company at A$1.27 billion (US$1.18 billion), saying it was too low.

The company, which owns food brands including Helga’s, MeadowLea and Wonder White, was targeted by Singapore-based agribusiness Wilmar International Ltd (豐益國際) and Hong Kong-based investment manager First Pacific Co Ltd.

The consortium conditionally offered US$0.65 a share, but Goodman Fielder management rejected the “opportunistic” bid on the grounds that it undervalued the company, whose shares closed 15 percent higher at US$0.63.

“The board believes that the current proposal materially undervalues Goodman Fielder and is opportunistic,” the maker of some of Australia’s most recognizable food and bakery products said.

“The board has advised Wilmar and First Pacific accordingly,” it added.

Struggling Goodman Fielder recently announced it was bringing forward plans for 300 job cuts to achieve A$25 million in cost reductions in response to a weaker-than-expected financial performance.

First Pacific and Wilmar, which already holds a 10.1 percent stake in Goodman Fielder, urged the board to allow them to inspect the company’s financial records.

“First Pacific and Wilmar ... will continue to seek engagement with the board about entering into due diligence aimed at bringing forward a binding proposal to Goodman Fielder shareholders,” the two companies said in a joint statement after the initial rejection of their bid.

Wilmar was at one time the world’s biggest palm oil trader, and teamed up with US giant Kellogg Co in 2012 to distribute cereal and snacks in China.

First Pacific Co has holdings in telecommunications and food products, and this month sealed a deal to take over the Philippine Star newspaper, according to reports.

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