Apr 29, 2014

    Aussie food firm rejects S'pore-HK offer


    AUSTRALIAN food manufacturer Goodman Fielder yesterday turned down a joint Singapore-Hong Kong takeover bid valuing the company at A$1.27 billion (S$1.5 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 and Hong Kong-based investment manager First Pacific Company.

    The consortium conditionally offered 65 cents a share, but Goodman Fielder management rejected the "opportunistic" bid on the grounds that it undervalued the company, whose shares closed 15 per cent higher at 63 cents.

    "The board believes that the current proposal materially undervalues Goodman Fielder and is opportunistic," said the firm, which makes some of Australia's most recognisable food and bakery products.

    "The board has advised Wilmar and First Pacific accordingly."

    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 hold a 10.1 per cent 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.