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Wilmar targets 10% stake in Goodman Fielder, keen on buying non-core assets

Tuesday 28th February 2012

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Wilmar International, the world’s biggest palm oil trader, is targeting a 10 percent stake in Goodman Fielder and has registered interest in the food ingredients maker’s assets that may be put on the block. Goodman shares jumped 13 percent to 76 cents on the NZX.

Goodman said it understands investment bank UBS is acting on Wilmar’s behalf as it seeks to buy 10 percent of the company’s shares. It hasn’t received proposals from anyone to buy the company outright.

The Sydney-based company has had early talks with the Singaporean firm about the “possible divestment of Goodman Fielder’s non-core assets,” it said.

Goodman is considering the sale of its Integro food ingredients unit and the New Zealand milling operation.

Earlier this month the food manufacturer reported a 77 percent slump in first-half profit to A$21.5 million. The company is seeking to restructure its business after rising commodity prices and tepid consumer demand forced it to write-off A$300 million from its baking division last year.

In 2010, Singapore Exchange-listed Wilmar bought CSR’s Australian sugar interests, including the Chelsea sugar refinery in Auckland.

It gathered some local notoriety a year earlier when its Indonesian palm oil joint venture with Fonterra Cooperative Group subsidiary RD1 was criticised by environmental lobby group Greenpeace, who claimed the JV was destroying rain forests and seizing indigenous land without proper process.

Shares in Wilmar fell 1 percent to S$5.07 on the Singapore Exchange yesterday.

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