Goodman Fielder recommends reduced takeover offer

WELLINGTON Tue Jul 1, 2014 6:59pm EDT

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WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Australasian food company Goodman Fielder Ltd (GFF.NZ) (GFF.AX) said on Wednesday that it would recommend shareholders accept a reduced takeover offer.

It said it had a deed of implementation that would see Singapore-based Wilmar International Ltd (WLIL.SI) and Hong Kong investor First Pacific Co (0142.HK) offer A$0.675 a share, valuing the company at A$1.32 billion ($1.25 billion).

"In reaching our conclusion to unanimously recommend that shareholders vote in favor of the scheme, the board concluded that the proposal represented an attractive value outcome for shareholders," chairman Steve Gregg said in a statement.

Goodman Fielder said it would also pay a final dividend of one Australian cent a share.

In May, the bidders, who already own 10 percent of Goodman Fielder, had raised their offer to A$0.70 a share after an initial bid of A$0.65 was rejected.

The deal will see the maker of Country Life bread and Meadow Lea margarine brought under the wing of Singapore-based Wilmar, a sugar refiner and the world's largest palm oil producer, and Hong Kong investor First Pacific, whose principal investments include Indonesia's PT Indofood Sukses Makmur Tbk (INDF.JK).

The bidders had insisted that Goodman Fielder keep its dairy business.

Goodman has struggled to build on the boom in Asian demand for Australasian produce. The company lowered its 2014 earnings guidance by 15 percent because trading conditions had deteriorated and cost-saving measures had been delayed.

It repeated that it expected to take a charge of between A$300 million to A$400 million because of difficult trading conditions and the outlook for its baking and grocery businesses.

Shares in the dual-listed Goodman Fielder were untraded in New Zealand after a trading halt was lifted. They had last traded on June 27 at NZ$0.72 a share and A$0.68.

(Reporting by Gyles Beckford; Editing by Chris Reese and Grant McCool)

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