Wilmar International Limited (WIL), the world’s largest palm oil trader, bought a 10.1 per cent stake in Goodman Fielder Limited (GFL) and is studying whether to acquire more shares in Australia’s biggest baking company.
Wilmar paid A$115 million ($124 million) for the stake in Goodman Fielder, which has a market value of A$1.3 billion, the Singapore-based company said in a statement. “Wilmar is currently assessing whether to increase its shareholding.”
Buying the stake in Goodman Fielder, which has local rights for Crisco oils and Newman’s Own salad dressings, increases Wilmar’s exposure to Australia after paying A$1.75 billion for the nation’s biggest sugar company, Sucrogen Ltd. Goodman Fielder shares, which hit a record low of 39.5 cents on Jan.6, had their largest one-day gain since their listing, jumping 33 per cent to 69 cents.
“At this price, we think Goodman remains substantially undervalued,” David Herro, Chief Investment Officer at Chicago-based Harris Associates LP, said by e-mail. Harris is Sydney-based Goodman’s second-largest shareholder with an 8 per cent stake, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The bid is “opportunistic”, Goodman Fielder spokesman Ian Greenshields said by telephone from Auckland. “Value lies well north of 60 cents,” he said.
The stake cost about 58 cents a share, based on the 2 billion shares Goodman has on issue, according to Bloomberg calculations.
Wilmar, which already held a stake of less than 5 per cent in the company, had been in talks with Goodman Fielder over the Australian company’s plans to sell off its Integro specialist ingredients and New Zealand-based milling businesses, Greenshields said.
A takeover would be the largest transaction in Asia’s food industry since Nestle SA last year bought 60 per cent of Chinese snack and candy maker Hsu Fu Chi International Ltd. (HFCI) for S$2.07 billion ($1.7 billion), according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Food company takeovers worth more than $1 billion average valued the target’s debt and equity at 10.7 times the previous year’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization, according to Bloomberg data.