SYDNEY Nov 7 Competition concerns about Archer
Daniel Midland Co's A$3.0 billion ($2.9 billion)
takeover of GrainCorp should be addressed by
regulation, the Australian company said on Thursday as political
tensions over the deal resurfaced.
Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey last month extended the time
period for a foreign investment decision on the bid, which is
unpopular with the new coalition government's junior partner,
the rural-based National Party.
Hockey on Wednesday criticised speculation about the
impending decision, due by Dec. 17, and public comment from
coalition politicians who oppose the deal.
"I will not be bullied or intimated by anyone when it comes
to making decisions on the national interest," he said.
Hockey and Prime Minister Tony Abbott have declared
Australia to be open for business since the coalition won power
in September, and the bid has been widely expected to be
"I believe we have a tremendous opportunity in the
Australian agricultural sector and attracting investment is a
really, really important part of that," Alison Watkins, managing
director and CEO of GrainCorp said on Thursday.
"If we turn our backs on it, it is like turning a tap off a
garden that is just about to bloom -- to stunt something instead
of getting something beautiful."
Opponents of the GrainCorp takeover have cited concerns over
selling national assets to foreign companies and decreased
competition as reasons to reject the deal.
"I don't believe the facts substantiate any concerns over a
lack of competition, but those can be addressed through
regulation," Watkins told reporters.
Only a handful of foreign investment deals are rejected by
Australian authorities each year and ADM's tilt at GrainCorp is
far from the first foreign deal in the agriculture sector.
The sector has seen a surge in M&A interest in recent weeks,
most notably in the dairy industry where Australia's Warrnambool
Cheese and Butter Factory Company Holdings Ltd has
attracted three full takeover offers.