18/06/2012 - 09:27

Lion bids $380m for Little World

18/06/2012 - 09:27

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Lion bids $380m for Little World

Shares in Little World Beverages have soared on the Australian Securities Exchange, after national beverages giant Lion launched a $380 million cash takeover bid for the Fremantle-based boutique brewer.

Lion said today it had reached agreement with the Little World board to acquire all of the shares in the company it does not yet already own for $5.30 each, by way of scheme of arrangement.

The bid values Little World, which produces Little Creatures and White Rabbit beers and Pipsqueak Cider, at $381.6 million.

By close of trade today, Little World shares had gained 36.1 per cent, trading at $5.16.

Little World’s board of directors said they expected the company would continue to operate as a “distinct and individual brand” under the ownership of Lion, which owns some of the nation’s biggest beverages brands, including Tooheys, XXXX, Berri and James Squire.

Lion was established in 2009 when Japanese brewing giant Kirin completed a takeover of Lion Nathan and merged it with National Foods.

Founding directors Nic Trimboli and Howeard Cearns said Lion had been a supportive shareholder from the start at Little World, and it had reaffirmed its commitment to continue operating the company’s flagship brewery and gastropub in Fremantle.

“While in one sense we are sad to be at this point, we are gratified that the brands we have created will not only be preserved, but will be given the opportunity to achieve even higher levels of recognition and success that they deserve on the national and international stage,” a statement from Messrs Trimboli and Cearns said.

“This outcome is a great credit to the management and staff that have contributed to the Little Creatures Brewing story.”

Lion chief executive Rob Murray said he believed the offer would be compelling for Little World shareholders.

 “Lion has a long history of supporting the Little World Beverages business and we believe there is now a fantastic opportunity through Lion’s scale distribution system to get these great brands to more beer lovers, while respecting the craft brewing ethos of the Little World Beverages brands, breweries and hospitality venues,” Mr Murray said.

Lion has a strong record of nurturing and preserving the entrepreneurism that has made boutique beer and wine brands like James Squire, Knappstein, Petaluma and St Hallett great, and will continue to invest in the Little World Beverages’ brands in the same manner.

Lion holds Little World Beverages’ founders and management team in the highest regard. They deserve enormous respect for building Little Creatures into one of Australia’s leading craft beer brands.”

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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