DataRoom AM: Noni B standoff

Alceon Group's bid for Noni B is challenged by an unhappy investor, while ice cream maker Wendys gets scooped up by a Singaporean group.

Alceon’s proposed takeover of Noni B could still come undone at the seams, as a concerned investor mounts a covert challenge to the deal. Elsewhere, Singapore takes another bite out of Australia’s food industry, Glencore mines a new bond market, while Westfield and APN News and Media pursue their American dreams.

A week after Noni B’s founders backed a takeover bid by Alceon Group, a powerful boutique investment firm has apparently moved to block the deal. Gannet Capital, backed by members of the billionaire Smorgon family, seized an 11 per cent stake in Noni B in a share raid on Tuesday evening, according to The Australian. Gannet chief executive Glenn Poswell told the newspaper Alceon’s 51-cents-a-share offer was too low, advocating for the struggling retailer to remain listed on the ASX and implement operational changes. More details could emerge after Gannet lodges a substantial shareholder notice -- expected later today.

The news is sweeter for Singapore’s Global Yellow Pages, which managed to scoop up Australian ice cream maker Wendys for $10 million. The local group said it would be business as usual at its existing stores in Australia and New Zealand, with GLE apparently focused on expanding the brand in Asia -- especially mainland China. The deal shows there is still a healthy international appetite for Australian food and beverage businesses, with Wendys following iconic brands such as Peters Ice Cream, Foster’s and Uncle Toby’s into foreign hands.

Meanwhile, Glencore has made a splash in the local debt capital market, diving in headfirst with a big inaugural Australian dollar-denominated bond offer. The surprise deal, said to be worth around $500m, raises hopes for a pick-up of Australia’s corporate bond market, following high-profile offers from BHP Billiton and Anglo American. Glencore has tapped UBS, National Australia Bank and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group to co-manage the offer.

Also in debt markets, APN News and Media has abandoned its $US250m ($270m) note offer in the US. The local media group claimed there was “significant investor interest” but that it did not “ultimately result in terms and conditions satisfactory to the company” -- market-speak widely interpreted to mean that the deal was poorly received. However, there is no indication that APN has lost its desire to diversify its funding sources and the company did say it would keep an eye out for capital market opportunities down the track.

Elsewhere, Westfield has priced a $US3.5 billion debt issue in the US -- shortly after Simon Property Group backed away from speculation about a possible deal with the local property giant -- while Elders went into a trading halt pending an announcement about a capital raising of its own.

Finally, Regis has set the pricing for its keenly awaited $1.3bn listing, seeking to raise $410m at between $3.20 and $3.85 per share in a bookbuild that kicks off on September 15, according to the Australian Financial Review. Macquarie Capital, Morgans and Evan and Partners are said to be running the show.

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