Will Bega snap up Capilano? Market movements suggest so

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Despite widespread media speculation, Bega Cheese insists it has still made no decision to acquire Capilano Honey.  ©iStock
Despite widespread media speculation, Bega Cheese insists it has still made no decision to acquire Capilano Honey. ©iStock

Related tags: Cheese, Bega, Capilano, acquisition

Despite widespread media speculation, Bega Cheese insists it has still made no decision to acquire Capilano Honey.

Bega has announced plans to make possible future deals by raising more money, but the first of these will not be for the Queensland natural honey maker, its executive chairman said.

The New South Wales dairy major has been touting its plan to imminently issue shares to raise around A$200m to reduce debt following Bega’s acquisition of Murray Goulbourn’s Koroit factory in July.

Moreover, it hopes to use the floatation to gain the resources to make further moves "to take advantage of future growth opportunities in dairy and food​”, according to its executive chairman.

Bega recently acquired Vegemite and has peanut butter within its portfolio, so honey seems a suitable fit to its stable of consumer goods.

Barry Irvin said: "Bega Cheese has always had a commitment to maintaining a strong balance sheet and this capital raising ensures we are appropriately geared should further opportunities arise​.”

It is only a little more than a week since Bega became a shareholder of Capilano Honey, at a time when it was the subject of a joint takeover bid from investment fund Wattle Hill RHC, a specialist in Chinese business moves, and Asia Pacific private-equity specialist Roc Partners.

Bega Cheese took a 5.76% stake in Capilano Honey, which has seen its board recommend the offer, which was 25.3% above the volume-weighted average price for the 30 days up to 10 August.

Capilanos biggest shareholder, Kerry Stokes, said it would accept the bid, in the absence of a “superior proposal”.

According to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald​ yesterday, Irvin said Bega Cheese was monitoring the Capilano Honey situation but had not made a decision on any possible future moves.

Irvin said Bega had "a watching brief​" on the honey company, the newspaper reported.

"We've made no decisions on Capilano beyond the fact that we would take a stake. It is about just making sure that the company has flexibility, but we've made no decision on Capilano​," Irvin was quoted as saying.

According to reports, stockbroker Canaccord Genuity was willing to pay A$21.00 a share for Bega Cheese, and got hold of at least 200,000 shares, which equates to approximately 2% of Capilano Honey’s issued equity.

Capilano and the companies hoping to take it over toured Australia last month to talk to honey suppliers about the surprise A$199m deal. Shareholders were offered continued ownership of Capilano. About 10% of Capilano’s honey suppliers are shareholders.

It is understood that all eight of Capilano’s directors intend to vote in favour of the takeover bid at a special meeting expected to be held in November. But it is dependent on Bega’s plans whether such a takeover will take place.

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