Aussie Capilano set for $190m takeover bid
AUSTRALIA'S biggest honey producer, Capilano Honey, is set to be taken over by a private equity group specialising in China-focused agricultural exports.
Capilano shares have jumped 25 per cent to a two-year high of $19.54 after the honey group's board endorsed an offer from a consortium composed of private equity fund Wattle Hill and investment manager Roc Partners.
Wattle Hill was co-founded by Albert Tse, the husband of Jessica Rudd, daughter of former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd.
It has offices in Sydney, Hong Kong and Beijing and is focused on Australian businesses that are set to capitalise on booming Chinese middle class demand.
Former Packer family adviser Ashok Jacob is on Wattle Hill's investment committee.
The proposed scheme of arrangement offers Capilano shareholders either $20.06 a share in cash or a one-for-one share swap in the new owner.
Roc Partners was formed from a buyout of a Macquarie Group private markets business and has involvement in the Australian Wagyu beef and oyster industries.
Capilano managing director Ben McKee said the consortium bid would give the company capacity to build up to a global-scale business.
"Wattle Hill's strong relationships in Asian markets provides an opportunity to unlock the potential of Capilano Group's premium and therapeutic brands," Dr McKee said.
Wattle Hill and Roc Partners are being advised by Macquarie Capital and law firm KWM as well as accounting firm PwC.
The move comes after Capilano has faced backlash from consumers and local beekeepers over its use of Chinese and Argentinian honey in its Allowrie product.
In July, Coles stopped stocking Capilano Honey's controversial Allowrie product.
At the time, Dr McKee confirmed the decision but said the company was working with Coles on a replacement.
"Coles is a key business partner of ours and we have worked with them to replace the Allowrie Brand with a range of new product innovations in Capilano Brand that are 100 per cent Australian honey," he said.
Dr McKee also said all Capilano branded product contained 100 per cent Australian-sourced honey.
Shareholders opting for the share option also have the right to participate in a further option to buy shares in the new company.
A meeting for shareholders to consider the offer will be held in November. It will require 75 per cent of all votes cast, and the support of half of all voting Capilano shareholders, to pass.