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No toast to Foster’s deal yet

No toast to Foster’s deal yet

Legal teams at Allens Arthur Robinson and Corrs Chambers Westgarth have been kept busy working on Foster’s Group’s hostile takeover bid for Southcorp Limited since the initial $3.1 billion offer…

Legal teams at Allens Arthur Robinson and Corrs Chambers Westgarth have been kept busy working on Foster’s Group’s hostile takeover bid for Southcorp Limited since the initial $3.1 billion offer was made in January.

AAR is acting for Southcorp while Corrs has been acting for Foster’s.

The high-profile bid has attracted extensive coverage, which has gone far beyond the financial media, and sparked media campaigns by both companies, including radio advertisements run by Southcorp with the jingles “it’s not time to sell” and “the price is not right”.

If the takeover went ahead, it would result in the world’s second-largest listed wine company, behind US-based Constellation Brands. After an initial rejection of the Foster’s bid, Southcorp offered to merge with Foster’s wine business, which would have been split off from its beer and other businesses to make a pure wine company.

Foster’s rejected this offer, but recently increased its bid from $4.14 to $4.26, with a reduction of bid conditions. Five of the seven Southcorp board members have recommended that shareholders accept the offer. Although Foster’s is definitely a step closer to a takeover, the bid is still at a highly sensitive stage. The next step is for Southcorp to release a supplementary target statement explaining why five board members have recommended the offer and two haven’t.

Corrs have been involved since the early stages of the development of the strategy regarding both the initial acquisition of the Oatley family’s 18.8 per cent shareholding in Southcorp, and throughout the bid generally. Robert Mott led the extensive Corrs team, while Ewen Crouch headed the AAR team.

Unusual features of the deal have included the extensive media coverage and the media campaigns undertaken by both companies, as well as an application to the takeovers panel. This saw Foster’s admonished for withholding information that it intended to include in the bidders statement from Southcorp, but allowed to be posted to shareholders without giving Southcorp the minimum two-week period to examine it.

Foster’s offer expires on 12 May.

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