Australia’s largest listed bulk grain handler GrainCorp said it received $1.8 billion takeover offer. The offer comes as a drought wilts crops across Australia’s east coast, limiting GrainCorp’s ability to earn revenue from international grain trading.
A group of Australian investors backed by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. offered $1.8 billion to take control of GrainCorp, Australia’s largest listed bulk grain handler. The offer comes as GrainCorp’s shares were trading near two-year lows amid a drought that’s slashed the amount of grain being delivered to its terminals this season. A drought-ravaged east coast cropping landscape and higher energy costs shrivelled GrainCorp’s full-year balance sheet in 2017/18, with profit dropping 43.7 per cent to $70.5 million. Last month GrainCorp cut about 50 jobs in middle management and administration on forecasts of a severely reduced summer harvest, with further cuts expected as a bleak 2019 looms.
The newly formed asset manager, led by prominent businessman Tony Shepherd and Lance Hockridge, the former chief executive officer of rail freight company Aurizon Holdings Ltd., offered A$10.42 a share in cash. That’s 43 percent more than GrainCorp’s last closing price. GrainCorp, which is the biggest crop handler in eastern Australia and is also a significant supplier of malt, says it hasn’t formed a view on the price. It wants more information on the equity investors underpinning the bid. The Australian government had blocked a A$2.8 billion takeover of GrainCorp by U.S. agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland Co in 2013 following pressure from grain growers.