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Stakeholder swoops on DB Group

By Chris Hutching

Friday 31st March 2000

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The takeover action at DB Group is far from over, with a new institutional shareholder indicating it may make an offer to satisfy major shareholder Asia Pacific Breweries (APBL) and provide minority shareholders with an alternative to the recent $2.80 a share bid price.

Californian investor group Palo Alto has its eye on the jewel in DB's crown, its ownership of the Corbans wine business.

Asia Pacific Breweries' recent bid for all the capital of the company closed on Tuesday, lifting its stake from 66% to 73%.

Most broking houses had advised their clients to hold on to their shares in view of a PricewaterhouseCoopers report putting a fair market price at between $3.19 and $3.61 a share.

The report also warned in the absence of a competing bid the fizz would soon go out of the share price if the Asia Pacific offer fell flat.

But the emergence of a new San Francisco-based institutional shareholder, Palo Alto, may renew interest in the stock. It built up a 10% holding during the bid period, possibly explaining why the shares rose to nearly $2.90 a share at one stage.

Lower Hutt lawyer Nigel Moody of Gibson Scheat, acting for Palo Alto, obtained a statement from the company. Palo Alto says it has owned DB shares since 1996 because it is "unusually well managed for a company of its size (in part due to its association with Heineken).

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