Stronger EU fats and oils industry on Aarhus merger?

Related tags Stock market Shareholder Aarhus

Consolidation in the European fats business likely as Aarhus United
shareholders yesterday clear the way for the merger with number one
Scandinavian fats and oils firms Karlshamns, reports Lindsey

Ending months of sales speculation, Aarhus' main shareholder Malaysian firm United International Enterprises last month informed the market it would bring the two Scandinavian fats and oil companies together.

At the time UIE announced, in co-operation with the main shareholder of Karlshamns, Melker Schorling (MS), that they would submit a joint offer to the shareholders.

The deal was based on the condition that Aarhus United entire shareholding in United Plantations Berhad, comprising shares directly owned by Aarhus United, as well as shares owned by the wholly-owned subsidiary, Aarhus Malaysia, in total equalling 23.4 per cent, is sold to UIE.

The future of Aarhus has been uncertain since UIE, citing a potential difference in long-term investment interests, announced in October 2004 it would divest its 45.6 per cent chunk of Aarhus.

As Scandinavia's number one fats and oils company, from the outset Karlshamns was mooted as the natural frontrunner for the Aarhus business: a combination of the two businesses creating a strong market player within speciality fats for the confectionery and food industries.

Yesterday, an overwhelming majority of shareholders (98.25 per cent) approved the sale of Aarhus United total shareholding in United Plantations Berhad to UIE, against a payment of MYR 6.00 per share, that totals €62.5 million.

Taking the next step towards the merger, expected for completion by 1 October, an offer will now be made to Karlshamns shareholders in the next couple of weeks, Esben Vibe, group CFO tells

The shareholders will mull over the offer for about eight weeks, prior to voting. If cleared, the merger will go to various competition authorities.

Combined, last year Karlshamns and Aarhus pulled in over €1 billion in sales, and €75 million in EBITDA, and together they have about 2200 employees.

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