DataRoom AM: Goodman fight

Goodman Fielder sends a clear message to its suitors, while Nine Entertainment browses the regional TV and radio sectors for acquisition options.

Goodman Fielder signalled last week that it would fight intense pressure from suitors and moves behind closed doors suggest the food manufacturer is going to follow through.

Elsewhere, Nine Entertainment outlines plans for expansion through acquisitions, Insurance Australia Group’s purchase of Wesfarmers’ insurance assets may have cleared it largest obstacle and BHP Billiton mulls a property divestment.

Takeover target Goodman Fielder has opened an auction on its New Zealand dairy business in a push to fend off a $1.27 billion takeover offer from Wilmar International and First Pacific, according to The Australian Financial Review. It is believed the unit -- which underwent a strategic review earlier this year -- could be worth half of the current offer for the whole business, sending a clear message to its suitors that their offer is a lowball proposal. Dairy giants Danone and Saputo have been reported among 20 likely buyers, with Asian-focussed dairy assets in heavy demand.

The development comes as Goodman stock made a rare recent retreat, with the food manufacturer’s shares now just 1c above the offer price after First Pacific boss Manuel Pangilinan told the Business Mirror his firm had no intention to lift the value of the deal.

Nine Entertainment chief operating officer Simon Kelly has said the newly listed media group is on the chase for acquisitions, potentially in the regional TV and radio sectors. There are strong expectations media laws will change which will allow the majors to buy out their regional affiliates -- in Nine’s case, Prime. However, Kelly cautioned that prices were on the expensive side at the moment.

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s competition regulator has given belated approval to Insurance Australia Group’s proposed purchase of Wesfarmers Lumley Insurance business in after delaying a decision last week. IAG’s $1.85bn acquisition of Wesfarmers’ insurance underwriting operations still requires the green light from the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority and Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey, but the biggest hurdles appear to have been cleared.

Elsewhere, packaging firm Amcor has paid $27m for Indonesian rival Bella Prima Packaging, marking the 20th deal for Ken MacKenzie since he took the reins of the ASX-listed firm in 2005. And the acquisitive streak is expected to continue.

In property, BHP Billiton is testing the market on its accommodation portfolio in Queensland, according to the AFR. The mining giant has not formally commenced a sales process but is believed to be open to a divestment worth around $500m.

In retail, Metcash has paid an undisclosed fee to claim control of auto parts retailer Midas Australia from US-based TBC Corporation, while the AFR reports the owners of vacuum cleaner seller Godfreys have been actively chasing private equity interest amid a broader recapitalisation plan.

Finally, the chief executives of Etihad Airways and Air New Zealand, as well as a representative from Singapore Airlines, are set to join the board of Virgin Australia in July, the AFR reports. The three firms together have over 70 per cent of Virgin stock but there remains no sign they will try to take over the airline in the near term.