Australian food group rejects Singapore-Hong Kong bid

SYDNEY - Australian food manufacturer Goodman Fielder on Monday turned down a joint Singapore and Hong Kong takeover bid valuing the company at Aus$1.27 billion (S$1.48 billion), saying it was too low.

The company, which owns food brands including Helga's, MeadowLea and Wonder White, was targeted by Singapore-based agribusiness Wilmar International and Hong Kong-based investment manager First Pacific Company.

The consortium conditionally offered 65 cents a share, but Goodman Fielder management rejected the "opportunistic" bid on the grounds that it undervalued the company, whose shares last traded for 55 cents.

"The board believes that the current proposal materially undervalues Goodman Fielder and is opportunistic," said the firm, which makes some of Australia's most recognisable food and bakery products.

"The board has advised Wilmar and First Pacific accordingly." Struggling Goodman Fielder recently announced it was bringing forward plans for 300 job cuts to achieve Aus$25 million in cost reductions in response to a weaker-than-expected financial performance.