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A move by broker UBS, on behalf of Wilmar International, to bid A$117.3 million for up to 10% of Goodman Fielder at 60 cents a share could be the first step towards a takeover offer worth $1 billion or more, according to media reports.
The Wilmar offer, which represents a 16.5% premium on Goodman’s last traded share price of 51.5 cents, pushed several of Goodman’s major shareholders to sell.
The offer came through from UBS after markets closed on Monday.
Goodman Fielder chairman Max Ould said that while he could not confirm the identity of the buyer, he suspects that Singapore-based Wilmar was behind the move.
According to the Australian Financial Review, Mr Ould suspects that Wilmar will make a full takeover offer if it is in fact behind the 10% offer.
Wilmar previously bought CSR’s sugar business for$1.75 billion back in 2011.
“I think it would be a much broader play if they are the genuine purchaser,” Mr Ould told the AFR.
“They have recently acquired Sucrogen from CSR, so maybe they see a broader food play.”
Mr Ould told the AFR that the company’s board would consider any proposal that added shareholder value.
In 2001, Pacific Equity Partners led a private equity push for the Australasian Goodman Fielder, which was eventually rejected by the board.
China’s Bright Food had previously said it was hoping to identify acquisitions in Australia with a focus on the food, dairy and wine industries.
Goodman is currently struggling to compete with foreign companies, when last week it reported a 77% drop in its first-half profits.