AUS: Lion gets chance to proceed on Independent

By | 30 October 2006

Australia's competition watchdog has reportedly given Lion Nathan the green light to proceed with a full bid for New Zealand's Independent Liquor.

After a review of the Australian spirits market, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has decided that there are no reasons to oppose a potential acquisition by Lion, according to a report in the Australian Financial Review today (30 October).

Last week, Lion received the green light to enter a bid from the New Zealand Commerce Commission.

Lion is one of six potential bidders on the shortlist for Independent, which produces RTDs including Vodka Cruiser, Mudshake and FX.

Last week, Diageo formally registered its interest in Independent but the ACCC has said the UK drinks giant will have to wait until 5 December for a ruling on its application to look at the company's books.

Foster's Group, which is also on the Independent shortlist, is yet to seek ACCC clearance to conduct due diligence on the company. The other three names understood to be on the shortlist are Coca-Cola Amatil and two private equity groups, Pacific Equity Partners and Nikko Principal Investments.

Independent was put up for sale last year following the death of founder Michael Erceg. Analysts have valued the company at around A$1.1bn (US$829m).

Sectors: Spirits

Companies: Lion Nathan, Diageo, Coca-Cola Amatil

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