Lion Nathan bids for Amatil

November 17, 2008

, SYDNEY, November 17  – Australia\’s second-largest brewer, Lion Nathan Ltd, has made a 7.6-billion-dollars (4.9 billion US) bid to buy soft drinks giant Coca-Cola Amatil, CCA said on Monday.

Lion Nathan, owned by Japanese giant Kirin Holdings, which supports the bid, made the cash and stock offer to acquire the drinks maker on November 7 in a deal that would form the country\’s largest beverages empire.

But Coca-Cola Amatil said the bid was "incomplete and non-binding" and that it contained a "number of material deficiencies" that could cause it to fail.

"In particular, the pricing multiple proposed is materially below recent multiples paid for domestic and international beverage companies and the CCA board can give no assurance that the proposal will proceed or be supported by the CCA board or its major supplier, the Coca-Cola Company," CCA said.

CCA said its shareholders, including its largest stakeholder, the US-based Coca-Cola Company, which has a 30 percent stake in CCA, had been offered a mix of 4.54 billion dollars in cash as well as shares.

Under the proposal, CCA investors would receive 6.15 dollars in cash and 0.469 Lion Nathan shares for each share they own, representing a consideration of 10.35 dollars per CCA share.

The bid is 25 percent higher than CCA\’s closing price of 8.25 dollars on Friday. But CCA said the premium on the closing price was insufficient.

If the deal goes ahead, the combined group would draw about six billion dollars in revenues annually, reports said, through household brands including Coca-Cola, Toohey\’s beer, XXXX lager, Mount Franklin bottled water and James Boag Beer.

The bold move by Lion and its parent company would mark the latest Australian acquisition this year for Japan\’s Kirin Holdings.

In August, Kirin unit National Foods acquired Australian milk, cheese and yoghurt cooperative Dairy Farmers for 910 million dollars as Japan\’s second-largest beer maker seeks to expand its business outside of its shrinking home market.

Lion Nathan stocks were placed on hold early Monday as news of the bid broke, while CCA\’s shares were up 16.36 percent at 9.60 dollars.

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