Indofood moves to buy out Minzhong

Largest shareholder offers S$488m for the rest of mainland firm hit by short selling

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 September, 2013, 12:05pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 September, 2013, 3:28am

Indofood Sukses Makmur, the largest shareholder of China Minzhong Food, yesterday offered S$488 million (HK$2.96 billion) in cash for the rest of the vegetable processor that had slumped after a short-seller assault.

Indofood offered S$1.12 a share for China-based Minzhong, the Indonesian company said yesterday. That is more than double the 53 Singapore cents that Minzhong fell to on August 26 before the stock was suspended from trading.

Minzhong's market value plunged to S$347 million last week after short seller Glaucus Research Group questioned its accounts.

The company, which grows and exports vegetables from China to 26 countries, denied the allegations on Sunday, saying they were calculated to cause panic and drive down its shares.

Indofood said yesterday it had agreed to buy 25.6 million shares, bringing its stake in Minzhong to 33.5 per cent, triggering a mandatory offer for the remaining shares.

The maker of noodle brands including Indomie, Supermi and Sarimi also controls palm oil producers Salim Ivomas Pratama and Perusahaan Perkebunan London Sumatra Indonesia as well as Bogasari, Indonesia's largest flour miller.

Minzhong last traded at 53 Singapore cents after plunging the most since its April 2010 share sale following the Glaucus report. Trading in the shares has been suspended.

Indofood, which said last week it was comfortable with its investment, had paid an average of S$1.02 a share for the stake it had built in Minzhong, said Herman Koeswanto, an analyst at Mandiri Sekuritas.

Minzhong may have fabricated sales and payments to its largest supplier, doctored accounts and overstated capital spending, Glaucus said in its report. It also questioned the food processor's reported receivables and cash balances.

The statements by United States-based Glaucus were "mischievous and calculated to cause panic and impose maximum damage on the price of the company's securities for their own benefit", Minzhong said in a 19-page statement on Sunday that was accompanied by invoices and pictures of its factory lines and warehouses.

Soren Aandahl, Glaucus's director of research, did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.