CBH denies merger speculation

16 Apr, 2008 10:43 AM
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CBH has scotched suggestions that it is engaged in merger discussions with potential partners.

Strong industry speculation over the past few weeks has intensified suggestions that CBH is looking closely at a merger with a likely partner and may have gone as far as discussing an actual offer.

It is understood to have been involved in behind-the-scenes discussions with South Australian-based grain handler and WA barley marketing specialist the Australian Barley Board (ABB), and agribusiness giant Elders.

Adding to the speculation, CBH board members met with ABB representatives in Perth last week at the St Georges Terrace office of lawyers Clayton Utz, which specialises in business and corporate law.

A CBH spokesperson said Clayton Utz was one of several lawyers used by the company to discuss a wide range of matters, but was unaware its office was the venue for last week’s meeting.

The web profile of Geoff Simpson, the partner in charge of Clayton Utz’s Perth Office, lists his specific areas of law as being mergers and acquisitions, corporatisation and privatisation and corporate law and equity finance.

Mr Simpson confirmed CBH was one of the company’s clients but said he was not in charge of the CBH file.

ABB’s contingent to Perth last week included chairman Perry Gunner, managing director Michael Iwaniw and deputy chairman Max Venning.

New CBH chairman Neil Wandel said ABB had made no formal offer to merge at last week’s meeting.

When asked if ABB was a good fit to merge with CBH, Mr Wandel said everyone was talking about structure.

“We have no plans to merge with anyone,” Mr Wandel said.

“Things are changing in the industry and as we know there’s been a lot of speculation about the type of structure we need to fit into it.

“But at the end of the day there has been no formal offers put on the table from our end.”

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