Shareholders in Coopers Brewery could be missing out on the deal of a lifetime, according to lawyers for takeover bidder Lion Nathan. Directors at the family-owned brewery have rejected Lion Nathan's offer of A$260 a share, but lawyers have warned that another bid for Coopers does not appear to be forthcoming.

The two companies are in a Federal Court in Melbourne this week, with Lion Nathan seeking an injunction to stop an extraordinary general meeting on 20 October which will vote on changing Coopers' constitution. The current arrangement allows Lion Nathan to acquire company shares that have been put up for sale and not subsequently purchased by either existing shareholders or Coopers' superannuation fund manager, AMP.

Although Federal Court judge Alan Goldberg said yesterday (3 October) that the meeting should go ahead, he warned that shareholders at Coopers needed to be "properly informed" of all pertinent information and the consequences of voting at the meeting.

Neil Young, QC, appearing for Lion Nathan, warned that Coopers' 117 shareholders had not been told that, if they voted to remove Lion Nathan's pre-emptive right, then there was little chance of anyone else offering as much as A$260 per share.

Dick Whitington, QC, counsel for Coopers, said, however, that striking out Lion's pre-emptive rights would remove its ability to stymie rival takeover offers for Coopers and thus improve the chances of Coopers shareholders receiving a premium bid.