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Goodman Fielder accepts bid

Business

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Breads-to-spreads maker Goodman Fielder is poised to fall into foreign hands after accepting a $1.34 billion takeover offer.

The company owns major brands including Meadow Lea, White Wings, Praise, Lawson’s, Helga’s and Vogel’s.

The Hong Kong-based investment firm First Pacific and Singapore’s Wilmar International have agreed buy Goodman for 67.5 cents a share.

Goodman shareholders will also receive a one cent dividend from the Australian food ingredients maker as part of the deal.

The companies have signed a scheme implementation deed which will allow the foreign predators to buy the remaining shares in Goodman that they do not already own.

Goodman Fielder chairman Steve Gregg said the food maker’s board was unanimous in recommending shareholders accept the takeover offer, describing the bid as attractive.

“I believe it also represents a positive outcome for our employees, our customers and our consumers,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.

“It provides an opportunity to further leverage our strong consumer food brands in Australia and New Zealand to grow our business across the Asian region.”

Goodman will appoint an independent expert to examine the offer, with shareholders expected to vote on the deal in November.

The offer will need support from Goodman shareholders holding at least 75 per cent of the company’s shares.

It also requires the nod of approval from Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board and authorities in New Zealand and China.

News of the deal coincided with Goodman announcing it expects to be hit by a $300-$400 million charge in its accounts for the 2013/14 financial year.

The charge relates to the challenging trading conditions the company has been experiencing and the outlook for its baking and grocery businesses.

Shares in Goodman Fielder are due to be released from a trading halt at 1100 AEST on Wednesday.

Goodman’s board in May agreed to a $1.37 billion offer from Singapore-based agribusiness Wilmar and Hong Kong-listed investment firm First Pacific.

Wilmar, the world’s biggest palm oil processor, and First Pacific had previously offered 70 cents a share to take over the Australasian food ingredients maker, after sweetening an earlier bid of 65 cents a share.

Goodman Fielder shares last traded at 68 cents.

The two suitors have spent recent weeks carrying out due diligence on Goodman.

Goodman Fielder has been cost cutting, restructuring and divesting over the past three years, to focus on its core brands and to reduce debt.

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