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AUSTRALIA: Market waits for Allied counter bid

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The bid made last week for the Australian winemaker Peter Lehmann Wines by the Swiss-based Hess Group has prompted speculation that Allied Domecq may be considering a rival bid.

Hess tabled a A$133m package of A$3.50 cash a share and PLW independent directors have agreed to accept in the absence of a higher bid.

But some analysts believe the bid falls short of a competitive offer. Allied Domecq already controls a 14.5% stake and may be prompted into trying to protect its investment.

An Allied Domecq spokesman said: "We already have a 14.5% stake and we are watching the situation with interest. We are currently assessing our options.

"We may be making some comment over the next day or so," he added.

Just before unveiling its bid Hess and PLW also announced that they had signed a distribution agreement allowing Hess to distribute Peter Lehmann wines in the US.

The Hess offer, which is subject to achieving a minimum 35% acceptance, also has the backing of the PLW board and founder Peter Lehmann.

In a letter to shareholders, Peter Lehmann said that accepting the Hess bid was " the only way I can see to save the identity and integrity of the company I founded to help the Barossa grape growers."

He said that Hess had "strong marketing skills, sound understanding of the wine industry and most importantly, is run by what I would term 'people's people'".

The chairman of PLW, Richard England, has also called Hess a better fit than Allied Domecq, saying the Swiss company was "at the same sort of price point as us".

He added that Allied had been a shareholder for 18 months and it was still unclear what its intentions were.

"They've had plenty of time to bid for the company," he said.

 


Companies: Allied Domecq

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