NORTH RYDE, AUSTRALIA — Goodman Fielder Ltd., the largest baker in Australia and New Zealand, said it rejected a proposal over the weekend from Wilmar International Ltd. and First Pacific Co. Ltd. worth A$1.3 billion ($1.2 billion).
Wilmar, which currently owns 10.1% of Goodman Fielder, and First Pacific, which is a Hong Kong-listed investment management company, offered Goodman Fielder A$0.65 per share, which was 18% higher than Goodman’s closing price in Sydney on April 25. Wilmar, one of Asia’s leading agribusiness groups, acquired its 10.1% interest in Goodman Fielder in February 2012 for approximately A$115 million.
“The board believes that the current proposal materially undervalues Goodman Fielder and is opportunistic,” Goodman Fielder said. “The board has advised Wilmar and First Pacific accordingly. The board of Goodman Fielder remains focused on maximizing shareholder value and will be constructive in relation to proposals that are consistent with this objective.”
Goodman Fielder said it is committed to the execution of its strategic plan and has undertaken the following actions:
• accelerated initiatives under Project Renaissance to deliver an additional A$25 million in cost savings, primarily through headcount reduction in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2014;
• progressed a strategic review to explore options to maximize the value of its New Zealand Dairy business; and
• commenced a review of strategies to optimize the daily fresh delivery model in its baking business to deliver greater cost efficiencies.
Goodman Fielder was formed in 1986 as part of a merger between Goodman Group Ltd. (New Zealand) and Allied Mills Ltd. The company’s portfolio of consumer brands includes Meadow Lea, Praise, White Wings, Pampas, Mighty Soft, Helga’s, Wonder White, Vogel's (under license), Meadow Fresh and Irvines. Its products cover every meal occasion and include bread, milk, margarine, flour, dressings, condiments, dips, mayonnaise, frozen pastry, cake mix, pies, savories, desserts, sauces, vinegar and cooking oils.
The company is headquartered in Sydney and employs more than 6,000 people in Australasia and the Pacific Islands.