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E-Malt.com News article: 3868

Philippines: Manila-based San Miguel Corp. and Philippine tycoon Lucio Tan are the final bidders for bankrupt Italian food group Cirio's 40 percent stake in Del Monte Pacific, said a source close to the matter. Cirio defaulted on more than 1 billion euros ($1.34 billion) of bonds in late 2002 and is being liquidated after investors rejected a restructuring plan, according to Reuters.

The three administrators, who are selling assets to raise cash to partly repay debt, had earlier received six offers for the 40-percent stake in Del Monte Pacific, a Philippine company listed in Singapore, worth some $180 million at market prices. "Lucio Tan and San Miguel remained in the running. Both offers are very interesting and no choice has been made yet," said the source.

Once a bid is chosen by Cirio's administrators and backed by a supervisory committee, which includes creditors, it is likely to be approved by the Industry Ministry. The source said the committee had not yet set a date for a meeting and could meet after the Christmas holidays.

San Miguel is Southeast Asia's largest food and drinks group.

Tan, one of the richest people in the Philippines and the region, owns stakes in Philippine Airlines, Asia Brewery, Fortune Tobacco, Philippine National Bank and Allied Bank.

The other bidders for the Cirio stake were Japanese conglomerate Sumitomo Corp. (8053.T: Quote, Profile, Research) , tinned-food and pickles producer Heinz (HNZ.N: Quote, Profile, Research) , U.S.-based fruit distributor Fresh Del Monte (FDP.N: Quote, Profile, Research) and another undisclosed Asian investor.

The Philippines' Lorenzo family owns 20 percent of Del Monte Pacific, giving it first-call rights on Cirio's stake.

22 December, 2004

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