Shares in Elders touched an 18-month high after the veteran Australian
agribusiness, which failed in an attempt to seal a buyer last year, revealed it
had attracted a fresh round of bid interest.
Elders' shares jumped 17.8% at one point to Aus$0.265 on
Tuesday, the highest since October 2012 - and taking to 130% their recovery
over the past two months.
The rose followed the group's announcement that it had received
"a number of… confidential" approaches, "from several parties, proposing
participation by those parties in the affairs of the company.
However, it termed the approaches "informal" and "incomplete",
adding that none of them had been "definite and in a form capable of consideration
by the Elders board.
"Accordingly, they are not being considered by the Elders
'No live proposals'
The statement followed a report in the Australia Financial
Review that Elders is being circled by Pacific Equity Partners, a Sydney-based
private equity company whose portfolio stretches from renewable energy group
Energy Developments to cinema operator Hoyts.
In the food sector, it owns New Zealand biscuit maker
Market talk has also mentioned Wellard, Australia's largest
livestock exporter and a farm operator over 35,700 hectares, as a potential
suitor, with unnamed Asian interest mentioned too.
Elders said that there are "no live equity proposals by Pacific
Equity Partners, or any other party, being considered by Elders".
Share price questions
The statement follows a week after Elders was investigated
by compliance staff at the ASX exchange over the strong performance of its shares.
Elders said that it was "not aware of any information
concerning it that could explain the recent trading in its securities, other
than information already announced", highlighting in particular purchases of
stock by its directors, and its forecast in May of a "positive" trading
The group, which traces its history back more than 170
years, put its operations up for sale last year, but received only one firm
proposal for its core agriculture division, from rival RuralCo, an offer Elders deemed inadequate.
Elders shares retreated in late deals to close at Aus$0.225
on Tuesday, although this still matched their highest close since October 2010.