April 28, 2014 4:40 pm JST

Australian foodmaker Goodman Fielder rebuffs Wilmar consortium's takeover bid

TOMOMI KIKUCHI, Nikkei staff writer

SINGAPORE -- Major Australian food and beverage producer Goodman Fielder on Monday rejected a takeover offer from a consortium involving Wilmar International, the Singaporean agribusiness group, and First Pacific, a Hong Kong-listed investment management and holding company.

     The offer was for 0.65 Australian dollars per Goodman Fielder share. That put the Australian company's value at around A$1.271 billion ($1.18 billion). Goodman Fielder said the proposal "materially undervalues" the business and "is opportunistic."

     The consortium is a 50-50 joint venture between Wilmar and First Pacific. The proposed price per share represented a 23.8% premium over Goodman Fielder's closing price last Wednesday. The consortium hoped to make Goodman Fielder a wholly owned subsidiary.

     Goodman Fielder, which is listed in Australia and New Zealand, makes dairy products as well as sauces and cooking oils. The company has been going through a restructuring over the past few years. Last year, it sold its flour milling unit in New Zealand to Japan's Nisshin Seifun Group.

     The Australian company on Monday said it will remain focused on executing a plan to achieve an additional A$25 million in cost savings by June 2015, mainly through job cuts. Goodman Fielder's shares jumped 19.09% on Monday.

     Singapore-listed Wilmar, the world's largest palm oil trader, currently owns 10.1% of Goodman Fielder.

     Wilmar's business includes both industrial and consumer-packaged goods, such as cooking oil and sugar. The Singaporean company distributes to over 50 countries, including China, India and Indonesia. Wilmar recently announced its entry into Myanmar's sugar market through a joint venture with a local company.