You can say “no” to these private equity types but there is a cost — the share price takes a pounding. That’s what Coles Myer did last night.
The company said in a statement today that it had told the US buyout groups to go away a second time, despite the offer being lifted from $14.50 to $15.25 a share. The new offer valued Coles Myer at more than $18.1 billion.
The company said the new offer was received last night and that it was rejected because it still undervalued the company. The strong “no” knocked the stuffing out of the share price: by midday it had lost 97c to $13.53.
It will now be up to the KKR group to try a hostile bid, with no due diligence, if they want Coles Myer.
Coles Myer chairman Rick Allert said the KKR-led group had said that this was its final proposal and that it did not intend to further increase the indicative price. Allert said the proposal remained non-binding and conditional upon, amongst other things, detailed due diligence.
“The conditionality of the proposal gives no certainty that the price proposed would be delivered to shareholders,” he said in a statement to the ASX.
CML has been advised that the participants in the syndicate making the bid have been reduced to five members, comprising KKR, the Carlyle Group, CVC Asia Pacific, Texas Pacific Group and the Blackstone Group.
“The board believes that shareholder interests will be better served by the company pursuing its growth strategy,” he said. “We remain confident that this will create significantly increased value for shareholders.”
He said the consortium had advised the Coles Myer board that it would withdraw and publicly announce its disengagement if it did not have the support of the board by October 23.
If the share price falls back to $12 or below the AGM next month should be interesting.