Agria extends Wrightson tilt again amid slow uptake

Article – BusinessDesk

by Paul McBeth and Jason Krupp March 31 (BusinessDesk) – Agria (Singapore) Pte. has extended its bid to take a controlling stake in rural services firm PGG Wrightson Ltd. for another week as it struggles to win over shareholders.

Agria extends Wrightson tilt again amid slow uptake

by Paul McBeth and Jason Krupp

March 31 (BusinessDesk) – Agria (Singapore) Pte. has extended its bid to take a controlling stake in rural services firm PGG Wrightson Ltd. for another week as it struggles to win over shareholders.

The New York Stock Exchange-listed company has pushed out the deadline to April 23 for shareholders to take up its 60 cents a share offer and give up just over half the company.

The offer was originally set to close on April 15.
The $141 million deal, which is backed by China’s New Hope Group, has been slow going, with the last substantial shareholder notice lodged on March 18, and Agria so far securing 41.1% of Wrightson’s stock.

In the absence of a better offer, the Agria offer has been endorsed by Wrightson’s board with the rider they wait until closer to the end date to see if a bidding war emerges.

“It looks like people want a cleaner offer for the business, an offer to buy all of it not just 50%,” said Rickey Ward, domestic equities manager at Tyndall Investment Management.

Two other bidders have cropped up during the offer period, the first, an unnamed company believed to be Canada’s Agrium Inc., dropped out after doing due diligence.

Hong Kong investor Zuellig Group has indicated an interest in taking a cornerstone stake in Wrightson, though hasn’t put forward a counter-bid, and was accused of trying to frustrate the Agria offer.

Wrightson’s shares rose 2% to 51 cents in trading today, 9 cents short of Agria’s offer, and have dropped 9.1% this year.

Agria took on a 19% stake in Wrightson in 2009 when the rural services company was struggling to turn a profit and saddled with too much debt.

(BusinessDesk) 16:50:06

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