DataRoom AM: Chasing Goodman

A local contender may be keen to have another shot at Goodman Fielder, while Treasury Wine Estates squashes speculation it will sell its US assets.

Asian bidders for Goodman Fielder may not have it all their own way as reports emerge of interest from a leading Australian private equity player. But interest is one thing; a successful bid is something else.

Elsewhere, Treasury Wine Estates swats away US divestment speculation, Roc Oil’s largest shareholder kicks up a fuss about its merger plans, Hochtief confirms an end date to its Leighton offer and Andrew Forrest chases agricultural assets.

Investors who pushed Goodman Fielder stock past the takeover price put forward by Singapore’s Wilmar International and Hong Kong’s First Pacific would be excited to hear rumours of a rival bidder emerging for the food manufacturer. Private equity firm Pacific Equity Partners, which has been on something of a divestment spree over the past 12 months and has the cash to bid, is mulling a proposal above $1.3 billion, according to The Australian Financial Review.

PEP has history with Goodman having joined with Bain Capital to launch a failed $3.6bn bid for the manufacturer in 2005. It was the third unsuccessful takeover offer PEP had lobbed for Goodman Fielder. If at first you don't succeed...

It has long been expected that Treasury Wine Estates would rid itself of its US assets or perhaps get purchased outright, but none of that is happening just yet, according to the ASX-listed firm. The rumour mill received a workout late last week as liquor giant Pernod Ricard made a US foray that forced many to speculate whether Treasury could be next.

However, the buzz -- which at one point pushed Treasury shares up 14 per cent on Friday -- was deflated by comments from both Treasury and Pernod that there had been no discussions between the two firms.

The much-hyped merger between Roc Oil and Horizon Oil could be about to hit a major snag as Roc’s largest shareholder presses for an extraordinary general meeting to block the deal. As it stands, the $800m merger only relies on approval from Horizon shareholders, but Simon Marais of Allan Gray is looking to give Roc shareholders a say on a deal he has described as “crazy” and “stupid”.

Elsewhere, shareholders in Leighton have just one more week to accept Hochtief’s proportional takeover offer after the German construction giant confirmed its proposal would not be extended. The admission by Hochtief comes despite the firm struggling to gain any traction with its offer, with its stake climbing from 59 per cent to just over 61 per cent, well below the 70 per cent-plus it is chasing.

Meanwhile, rich lister Andrew Forrest is on the large bandwagon backing the worth of Australian agriculture assets, with his Minderoo Group shelling out to buy WA’s largest beef processor Harvey Beef. With a close eye on Chinese growth, Forrest’s firm has reportedly paid as much as $50m to secure the deal.

In telecommunications, Telstra has won approval from Hong Kong regulators for its $US2.4bn sale of mobile service provider CSL. The deal, announced in December, was initially expected to be finalised in March.

Finally, News Corporation -- the owner of Business Spectator -- will pay about $450m to purchase romantic novel published Harlequin Enterprises. It will be absorbed into the HarperCollins division.

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