Coles Myer Chairman Rick Allert has again defended the company’s rejection of a $15.25 a share offer from a private equity group lead by KKR from the United States.

Speaking at the company’s annual meeting in Sydney today, Mr Allert said that the price suggested by KKR was “at the lower end of the valuation the company got from three advisors.”

He was answering a question from Sydney fund manager Peter Morgan of 452 Capital who had asked whether the company’s board was united in the rejection and for an explanation as to what the phrase “substantially undervalued” meant.

Mr Allert had used the phrase “substantially undervalued” in his formal speech to the meeting when he was discussing the rejection of the private equity proposal.

Mr Allert said that it was a unanimous decision of the board to reject the proposal which he said was never in a form that could be put to shareholders.

In his questions Mr Morgan said that at a time when money was so freely available and with other companies using private equity, he wondered why Coles Myer didn’t have an explanation of the phrase “substantially undervalued.”

Mr Allert said that the bottom range in the valuations of the company were “substantially in excess of the $15.25 a share proposal from KKR.”

The meeting continues this afternoon. 

Peter Fray

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