SYDNEY, July 21 South Africa's Woolworths
Holdings Ltd's $200 million bid to buy out Australian
retailer Country Road Ltd shareholders was fair and
reasonable, an independent expert said on Monday.
Woolworths welcomed the findings, which will help ease any
shareholder concerns that it paid too much for the Country Road
stake in order to remove a potential obstacle to its bid to take
over Australian department store chain David Jones Ltd.
Last month, Woolworths offered to buy the near 12 percent
stake in Country Road held by billionaire Solomon Lew, on the
condition that its separate A$2.2 billion ($2.07 billion) bid
for David Jones went through.
Lew had amassed a holding of just under 10 percent of David
Jones and the Country Road offer was seen as an attempt to
secure the David Jones deal, which was agreed by shareholders
earlier this month.
Independent expert Lonergan Edwards and Associates said it
valued Country Road at A$14.92 to A$16.22 per share, compared
with the A$17 per share bid from Woolworths.
Not included in the valuation were benefits unique to
Woolworths from buying out Country Road through the ability to
grow the business faster and increased certainty about savings
benefits, the expert said.
An Australian-based spokesman for Woolworths said Country
Road and Woolworths shareholders could be happy with the deal.
"The offer is fairly priced from the perspective of both
Country Road and Woolworths shareholders, reflecting the unique
benefits that only Woolworths can derive from having 100 percent
of Country Road as well as David Jones," he said in an emailed
($1 = 1.0653 Australian Dollars)
(Reporting by Lincoln Feast; Editing by Stephen Coates)