25 Aug 2010

Olam confident of NZ Farming Systems bid

7:41 am on 25 August 2010

The Singaporean food giant bidding for New Zealand Farming Systems Uruguay says it's confident it will get a controlling stake.

Singapore-based food company Olam International has increased its offer from 55 to 70 cents per share.

That trumps the bid by Uruguay-based Union Agriculture Group of 60 cents per share.

The higher offer enticed ACC to agree to sell its 7% stake to Olam, and along with the PGG Wrightson stake it had already secured, Olam now has acceptances that give it 37% of the farm developer.

Olam's bid is conditional on getting 50% of the company.

The managing director of Olam's coffee and dairy business, Vivek Verma, says the company is talking to other major shareholders, and he's confident it can get over the 50% mark.

Following Olam's increased bid, Farming Systems urged investors not to sell their shares.

The farm developer says investors should wait for Agricultural Union to formally launch its bid, while adding it'll soon reveal the identity and offer of a third mystery investor, who could inject much needed cash into the business.

While Mr Verma won't say whether 70 cents is Olam's final bid, he says the company will veto any new investment in Farming Systems from a third party.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Agricultural Union, says it is considering the implications of Olam's higher offer.

An analyst at Forsyth Barr, John Cairns, values the company at about 83 cents a share, but says there are a lot of risks to that price, so a discount would be applied.