China's Bright Food denies Treasury Wine buy talks

SHANGHAI Tue Jul 5, 2011 5:17am EDT

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SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China's Bright Food Group said on Tuesday it was not in discussions to buy any Australian wine assets, denying a media report that it was in internal talks on bidding for Australia's Treasury Wine Estates Ltd (TWE.AX).

"Currently, we have no Australian wine acquisitions in the works," Pan Jianjun, general manager of the firm's public relations department, said by telephone.

However, Pan said the Shanghai-based conglomerate could consider acquiring wine assets in Australia, France, Chile and the United States to broaden its brands portfolio, which currently includes labels such as Shikumen and He Jiu.

Bloomberg News reported on Friday that Bright Food was considering making an offer for Treasury Wine Estates.

The report sent the shares of Treasury Wine Estates up 11 percent on Monday. Its shares closed down 2.2 percent on Tuesday.

Treasury Wine, with brands including Penfolds, Rosemount and Beringer, was spun off by Foster's Group FGL.AX in May to its shareholders after the brewer failed with an expansion into wine that resulted in nearly A$3 billion ($3.2 billion) in write-downs.

Treasury Wine, the world's second-largest wine company behind Constellation Brands (STZ.N), owns vineyards from Hunter Valley near Sydney to Napa Valley in California.

Government-controlled Bright Food has been actively looking for acquisitions overseas to boost its profile and cater to a rapidly growing domestic market.

However, it has been unsuccessful thus far with a string of failed bids that includes CSR's (CSR.AX) sugar business and French yoghurt maker Yoplait.

Bright Food, which makes the famous "White Rabbit" candy, was also reportedly in talks to buy U.S. nutritional retailer GNC and Britain's United Biscuits, but talks fell apart over pricing, terms and uncertainty over regulatory approval.

Pan said Bright Food would continue to seek opportunities overseas that fit its core businesses of dairy, sugar, wine, food industry, retail chains, brand agency services, and agriculture.

The firm has four subsidiaries listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange: Shanghai Jinfeng Wine Co (600616.SS), Shanghai Haibo Co (600708.SS), Shanghai Maling Aquarius Co (600073.SS) and Bright Dairy & Food Co (600597.SS).

Bright Food has said it may make acquisitions through its listed units instead of the group company. ($1 = 0.931 Australian Dollars)

(Editing by Jason Subler)

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