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Cargill in new approach to buy Goodman Fielder oils arm
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Commodities firm Cargill is looking to buy Goodman Fielder's (GFF.AX) edible fats and oils business, reviving a deal that Australia's competition watchdog rejected two years ago, the agency revealed on Wednesday.
"Cargill Australia Limited is proposing to acquire the edible fats and oils business of Goodman Fielder Limited," the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said on its web site on Wednesday.
"The ACCC is considering the proposed acquisition in light of the current competitive environment and any developments in the relevant markets," it said.
Cargill's new approach had not been previously announced.
Goodman Fielder, 10 percent owned by Singapore palm oil company Wilmar International (WLIL.SI), put its Integro edible fats and oils business and its New Zealand milling arm up for sale six months ago. Final bids are due at the end of June.
Peter McBride, a spokesman for Cargill, confirmed the bid. "We see (Goodman Fielder's edible fats and oil business) as potentially part of the growth plans for our Australian operations," McBride said.
McBride refused to comment on the details of the bid.
"We have had a number of expressions of interest. There is demand for the business," Goodman Fielder spokesman Ian Greenshields said, referring to the edible fats and oils arm.
The competition commission said it aimed to rule on Cargill's proposal on July 19.
Greenshields declined to comment on how soon the company would conclude a sale of the business.
However he said the company would not want to get stuck in a drawn-out process like last time, when Cargill spent 11 months trying to win approval from the commission before scrapping its A$240 million bid.
"We certainly wouldn't want to be in a position where we had that sort of a delay," Greenshields said.
McBride refused to comment on how Cargill planned to win the support of the ACCC should it be successful with its bid.
Australian food manufacturers have struggled with shrinking margins in recent years, as their main customers -- Australia's top two supermarkets Woolworths Ltd (WOW.AX) and Coles (WES.AX) -- have slashed prices and stepped up sales of cheap home brands to lure customers.
(Reporting by Sonali Paul, Miranda Maxwell and Colin Packham; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)
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