Macquarie replies with another bid

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MACQUARIE has hit back again in the wrestle for control of Vitalharvest Freehold Trust, upping its acquisition offer and increasing its interest in the Costa Group orchards landlord to 20.9%.

Vitalharvest told the ASX yesterday it had been informed by Macquarie that if the takeover offer of rival Roc Partners proceeds and is put to a vote, Macquarie intends to vote, or procure the vote of, those units, and any Vitalharvest units it acquires in the future, against the Roc scheme.

Macquarie’s newest takeover offer – its tenth overall – is $1.33 per unit, or $357.35 million for all of the assets as an alternative offer. This matches Roc’s most recent bid, which landed  on Tuesday, so far making good on its intentions to continually outbid its rival.

Vitalharvest said Roc has not indicated whether it maintains the intention it stated with its last offer that it intends to overbid any further Macquarie offers by an equivalent of 1c per unit. Earlier this week, it exceeded that gap.

The latest Macquarie proposal includes some change to its previous offer, including permitting a distribution for the full year, with a corresponding reduction to the price paid per unit for any full year distribution paid, if completion were to occur after this month.

Vitalharvest said it is reviewing the Macquarie proposal and Roc’s previous offer.

Macquarie has five-day matching rights if the Vitalharvest does determine the Roc offer a superior proposal.

Vitalharvest owns a $305 million portfolio of blueberry, raspberry and blackberry farms in New South Wales and Tasmania, and citrus properties in South Australia. Each are leased to Costa Group until 2026. Macquarie has struck a fixed 10 year agreement with the tenant in the event that it wins out in the battle.

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