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Australia's CBH rejects listing proposal; to review structure

[SYDNEY] Australia's largest wheat exporter, Co-operative Bulk Handling (CBH), on Monday rejected a proposal to buy and list the group, but said it would review its structure and had received expressions of interest from other parties.

CBH said the plan to buy and immediately list the co-operative was not in the best interests of its 4,200 farmer members, while it was deterred by the presence in the purchasing consortium of east coast grain handler GrainCorp. "This unsolicited bid would see Western Australian grain growers lose control of CBH's strategic supply chain and GrainCorp acquire a strategic stake in CBH at a discount rather than a premium," Willy Newman, chairman of CBH, told reporters.

While rejecting the GrainCorp-backed offer, CBH said it has received "several expressions of interest from other parties".

It planned to talk to farmer shareholders about its future structure and would produce a proposal for members by the end of September.

CBH did not name the potential suitors and would not comment on questions about whether the new parties were proposing a deal similar to that proposed by the GrainCorp-backed Australian Grains Champion (AGC) consortium.

AGC, which includes farmers and some former directors of CBH, had proposed to acquire and list the Western Australia state co-operative in a deal that analysts say would be worth up to A$3 billion (S$3.11 billion).

The presence of eastern Australian grain handler GrainCorp Ltd in AGC had stirred concerns among some farmers that it could eventually acquire CBH.


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