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Asahi bids for Charlie's

NZPA

Monday 4th July 2011

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The major shareholders in beverage company Charlie's Group have accepted a takeover offer from Japanese giant Asahi, and the Charlie's board is recommending other shareholders accept the offer.

Asahi Group Holdings subsidiary Asahi Beverages New Zealand is offering 44c for each Charlie's share, which closed at 28c on Friday. The bid values Charlie's at $129 million.

Charlie's today said the offer was subject to a number of conditions, including Asahi obtaining acceptances for 90 percent of the shares in Charlie’s and consent from the Overseas Investment Office.

Major Charlie's shareholders, representing 52.17 percent of shares, had agreed to accept the offer.

Those shareholders included founders Stefan Lepionka, Marc Ellis and Simon Neal, along with Collins Asset Management and Charlie’s director Tim Cook.

Mr Lepionka, Charlie’s chief executive, said the offer represented a great outcome for the business and its brands at this stage of the group’s cycle.

If Asahi acquired all the Charlie’s shares, it intended to continue to operate the company as a stand-alone business, while supporting the existing management team in its current plans for growth, as well as providing access to the Asahi Group’s distribution network, innovation and other technical capabilities, Charlie's said.

Asahi had indicated it intended to continue to invest in Charlie’s to grow its brands, while retaining its premium positioning and strong culture of innovation.

David Beguely, managing director of Schweppes Australia, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Asahi Group Holdings, said Charlie’s complemented the Schweppes Australia business well.

"It particularly enhances our position in the premium beverage segments as well as providing a foothold in the New Zealand market," Mr Beguely said.

Charlie's said its board recommended that Charlie’s shareholders accept the offer in the absence of a superior proposal and subject to the offer price being within or higher than an independent adviser’s valuation range.



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