December 2, 2019 / 11:29 PM / 7 days ago

UPDATE 1-Caltex Australia rejects Couche-Tard bid but offers books for better deal

* Caltex rejects $5.8 bln offer from Couche-Tard

* Caltex says offer represents “low takeover premium”

* Caltex offers private information for better bid (Recasts and updates throughout with more detail from Caltex statement)

Dec 3 (Reuters) - Caltex Australia on Tuesday rejected a sweetened A$8.61 billion ($5.84 billion) takeover offer from Canada’s Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc but offered to give its suitor private information to formulate a higher bid.

Caltex had revealed the A$34.50 per share proposal from Couche-Tard last week. It was the second offer from the Canadian convenience store operator in as many months after Caltex turned down its first A$32 per share approach.

Caltex noted that the sweetened offer represented a “low takeover premium” of 16% to Caltex’s last closing price of A$29.79 before the offer. Caltex’s shares were at A$34.06 on Tuesday.

Caltex said the offer did not take into account the “consistent performance” and “international growth trajectory” of its fuels and infrastructure business, or the “significant opportunities” for its convenience retail business.

“Caltex has a well-developed strategy, privileged assets, strong leadership and compelling growth opportunities that the Board believes will deliver attractive value for its shareholders over time,” Caltex Chairman Stephen Gregg said.

Caltex said it had offered to give Couche-Tard selected non-public information to allow it to formulate a revised proposal “that appropriately reflects the value of Caltex.”

The Australian petrol pump and convenience store operator is under pressure to turn around its business due to weak consumer demand and margin pressure.

If the deal goes ahead, it would mark Couche-Tard’s first foray into Australia, and its largest deal, according to Refinitiv data. The Canadian company said it has been looking at Asia for several years.

$1 = 1.4736 Australian dollars Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien and Jane Wardell

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