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Montana price keeps bidders at bay

By Phil Boeyen, ShareChat Business News Editor

Thursday 28th December 2000

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Shares in Montana (NZSE: MON) continue to dangle just out of reach of Masfen Holdings and brewer Lion Nathan (NZSE: MON), both of whom are now in the market for the wine maker's stock.

Masfen Holdings was officially allowed to begin acquiring more of Montana as of yesterday, following the 15-working day notice and pause period since first filing its restricted transfer notice.

Both Lion and Masfen Holdings - represented by Montana chairman Peter Masfen - are aiming for 51% of the shares in Montana and will stay in the market until the beginning of July next year.

The companies also share the same price range for the stock at between $3.20 and $3.80, just below Montana's Wednesday closing price of $3.85.

Although an appraisal report has valued the wine maker at between $4.16 and $4.64, Lion has dismissed the valuation as highly ambitious, and appears happy to play a wait-and-see game with regard to building its shareholding.

Media-shy Mr Masfen has yet to reveal his reasons for even making a bid. If it was an attempt to gain a higher price, then Lion has not taken the bait.

There are also questions over where Mr Masfen, who is estimated to be worth around $90 million, would raise the more than $250 million his company needs to lift its 20% shareholding to 51%.

While Lion has categorically stated it won't be taking part in the appraisal report's valuation range, Masfen Holdings has not commented on whether it considers the report's valuation is fair or not, even though the report has been public for more than two weeks.

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