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New Zealand KFC, Pizza Hut operator gets US$578m takeover offer, shares soar

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Restaurant Brands New Zealand Ltd, operator of KFC and Pizza Hut franchises, said it was in takeover talks with Mexico-based Finaccess Capital which made a US$578 million bid for a controlling stake, sending its shares to record highs.

[WELLINGTON] Restaurant Brands New Zealand Ltd, operator of KFC and Pizza Hut franchises, said it was in takeover talks with Mexico-based Finaccess Capital which made a US$578 million bid for a controlling stake, sending its shares to record highs.

Finaccess Capital, S.A. de C.V., an investment firm, offered NZ$9.45 per share for up to three quarters of Restaurant Brands, which represents a premium of about 24.3 per cent to the last closing price.

Auckland-based Restaurant Brands' shares soared about 14 per cent to a record high of NZ$8.72, their biggest jump since September 2009.

"Looks like a very attractive offer for shareholders. But it is surprising that they want only 75 per cent of the company rather than 100 per cent," said Brian Gaynor, director of Milford Asset Management.

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The sale of a 75-per cent stake to Finaccess could have a negative impact on the liquidity of the stock, he added.

The franchise operator said the approach was non-binding and indicative and there was no guarantee that Finaccess would proceed with a takeover.

Separately, the fast-food group said first-half net profit rose 7 per cent to NZ$20.4 million, supported by a push overseas. Restaurant Brands said it did not declare a dividend for the period as the offer price in the proposal was subject to adjustment for any dividend paid.

In September, the Auckland-based firm said it would not renew a two-decade-old deal with Starbucks Corp in a region where an entrenched coffee culture has made it difficult for the world's largest coffee chain to thrive.

Finaccess already holds a controlling interest in Spain-based restaurant operator AmRest Holdings SE.

REUTERS