Heinz takeover of Golden Circle almost complete

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 2nd December 2008

Golden Circle shareholders have revealed their overwhelming support for the takeover proposed by food manufacturer Heinz.

The H.J. Heinz Company Australia Limited (Heinz) made a $288m bid for Golden Circle in October, which received unanimous support from the Golden Circle Board.

Golden Circle, a 61 year-old Australian company renowned for their canned fruit and vegetables, fruit juice and jam, earlier this year listed on the National Stock Exchange after refusing a $1 a share bid from Coca-Cola Amatil last year when they were operating as a co-operative – the Heinz bid values them at $1.65 per share. They announced a $3.5 million net profit in the 07/08 Fiscal Year, their first annual profit in a number of years.

At the shareholder meeting to consider the offer, held in Caloundra yesterday, shareholders voted 97.05% in favour by number of shareholders voting, exceeding the majority in number approval threshold, and 99.29% in favour by number of shares held, exceeding the 75% approval threshold.

“The support for the Heinz Proposal by our shareholders is an important step in this process, which will help to secure Golden Circle’s future and provide benefits for
shareholders, growers and our employees,” Golden Circle’s Chairman, Mr Phillip Cave, said. “Both companies have iconic brands and offer complementary products with a wide range of food and beverages for Australian consumers.”

Mr Cave reported that Heinz also advised there had been no objection to the proposed transaction from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Foreign Investment Review Board.

“Heinz and Golden Circle both have rich histories of providing good quality, affordable foods to generations of Australians and we look forward to this heritage continuing under the Heinz acquisition,” he concluded.

“Shareholders today have shown their support for Heinz as the future custodian of a great brand, and we look forward to growing the business and making the Golden Circle name even stronger,” Heinz Managing Director, Mr Peter Widdows, advised.

Implementation of the takeover remains subject to approval of the proposal by the Supreme Court of Queensland at a Court hearing scheduled for Monday, 8 December 2008 and satisfaction (or waiver) of certain other conditions. If approval is granted it is expected that the Heinz Proposal will become effective on Tuesday, 9 December 2008 with suspension of trading in Golden Circle shares on NSX scheduled for 5.00pm (Sydney time) on that day.