Thai group purchase four Australian sugar mills

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 8th February 2012

The Thai sugar group Mitr Phol has acquired a controlling stake in four Australian sugar mills through the takeover of MSF Sugar.

MSF Sugar was formerly known as the Maryborough Sugar Factory and is based in the far north of Queensland.

Mitr Phol’s acquisition price for its controlling shareholding stake was more than AU$300 Million.

Australian Food News reported in January 2012 that MSF sugar had accepted a $4.45 per share takeover offer by Mitr Phol.

According to its latest takeover bid notification to the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX), Mitr Phol has increased its voting power in MSF from 37.9 percent to 55.37 percent since January 2012. However, the percentage of MSF Sugar shares in which Mitr Phol and associates have a relevant interest has increased from 57.69 percent to 72.54 percent.

MSF chairman James Jackson said of the sale, “The Offer of $4.45 per MSF share has been unanimously recommended by the MSF Board of Directors, in the absence of a superior proposal”.

Mr Jackson concluded by saying, “No approaches have been received or discussions held by the MSF Board of Directors in relation to a potential superior proposal and the Board is not aware of any party having an intention to make such a proposal.  All directors who hold MSF shares have lodged their acceptances.  Mitr Phol now has a controlling interest in MSF”.

The sale of MSF comes at a time in Australia where approximately three quarters of Australian sugar mills are now owned by foreign companies. As previously reported by Australian Food News, these foreign-owned milling groups include Sucrogen (controlled from Singapore–Malaysia), Bundaberg (from Belgium) and Tully (from China).

Australian Food News has previously reported that sugar production in Australia declined through the previous decade as a result of low sugar prices, and a process of rationalisation has taken place, with a number of mills closing. The availability of additional capital from new foreign owners has facilitated rationalisation and maintained efficiency in the industry.