Lion Nathan not willing to make hostile bid for Coca-Cola Amatil

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 24th November 2008

Lion Nathan Chief Executive, Rob Murray, has advised that Australia’s second largest brewer is likely to drop their bid for Coca-Cola Amatil if it cannot be made on amiable terms.

The offer, which was announced to shareholders by Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA) last Monday, values CCA at upwards of $7.6b. It has, however, been met with disapproval from their major shareholder (The Coca-Cola Company), the CCA Board and CCA CEO Terry Davis – who dismissed it as a “flawed” bid.

“Let’s be under no illusions, we’re not even remotely thinking this could be done on a hostile basis,” Mr Murray told ABC’s Inside Business program yesterday morning. “If at any stage, this becomes genuinely hostile, then we will just get back to our day job and focus on the knitting and drive our beer business.”

Mr Murray also refuted claims of tension between himself and Mr Davis.”He’s a very straightforward and logical businessman and I’ve got a lot of respect for what he does. I hope that’s mutual,” he said.

Mr Murray advised that the dealings had not panned out as hoped so far, with Lion Nathan to join with their major shareholder – Kirin Holdings, which has a 46% stake in the business – in holding discussions with The Coca-Cola Company. “This came out in a fairly hasty way that we didn’t particularly want,” he admitted. “I think therefore that we need to regroup, make sure all stakeholders understand the value. Clearly then, it’s appropriate for some sort of dialogue between Kirin, ourselves and TCCC. I’d love (Coca-Cola) Amatil to be alongside us, but if that is not possible, then I guess, we circle back round with them after that dialogue.”

If a deal is struck it would create Australia’s largest beverage company, with a market capitalisation of over $11b. Lion Nathan has the Tooheys, Hahn, XXXX, Heineken and Bacardi brands among its distribution portfolio in Australia. While CCA, bottles the Coca-Cola, Mother and Powerade brands, as well as operating fruit and vegetable processor SPC Ardmona.