Auric Pacific makes cash offer for Food Junction

Auric Pacific makes cash offer for Food Junction

FOOD manufacturer Auric Pacific has become the latest firm to take advantage of the share market slump to launch a bid to buy out minority shareholders.

The move announced yesterday comes hard on the heels of a similar attempt announced last Friday that would see Guthrie GTS, Singapore's oldest company, privatised.

Auric, which is 49.28 per cent owned by the Lippo Group conglomerate controlled by Indonesia's Riady family, owns 61.42 per cent of Food Junction. It also owns Sunshine Bakers and the Delifrance cafe chain.

The company told the Singapore Exchange (SGX) yesterday that it was offering 25.5 cents apiece in cash for the remaining 47 million or so Food Junction shares - a deal that could cost it around $12 million.

The offer represents a 40.1 per cent premium to the last transacted price of Food Junction shares on Thursday, which was 18.2 cents. It is also around 34.2 per cent higher than Food Junction's net asset value per share, which was 19 cents as at Dec 31.

The offer price puts a value of $31.1 million on mainboard-listed Food Junction, which operates food courts and restaurants in Singapore, Indonesia, China and Hong Kong.

Trading in Food Junction shares has been halted since markets closed last Thursday.

Auric also called a halt to the trading of its own shares last Thursday night and lifted it at 4pm yesterday after announcing its offer.

Auric group chief executive Saw Phaik Hwa said in a statement yesterday that raising its stake in Food Junction would give it "greater control and flexibility to align Food Junction's business direction" with Auric's growth strategy.

Auric said if its stake climbs to over 90 per cent it would exercise its right to make a compulsory acquisition of the remaining shares and then delist Food Junction, which would slash listing and compliance costs.

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