Australia's Bapcor mounts $322.5m takeover bid for Hellaby

Bapcor is offering $3.30 a share to take full control of Hellaby. Photo / File
Bapcor is offering $3.30 a share to take full control of Hellaby. Photo / File

ASX-listed autoparts firm Bapcor has mounted a $322.5 million takeover bid for NZX-listed Hellaby Holdings as it looks to extend its reach into New Zealand's local auto market.

The Preston, Victoria-based company is offering $3.30 a share to take full control of Hellaby, an 8.9 per cent premium to yesterday's closing price of $3.03, and has secured acceptances totalling almost 30 per cent, according to a notice to the stock exchange. Bapcor wants to delist Hellaby, and plans to sell the equipment, resources and footwear businesses to focus on the automotive segment.

"The proposed acquisition of Hellaby, if successful, will enable Bapcor to enter the New Zealand automotive parts market and use its scale and proven industry expertise to improve the service and range of products offered in New Zealand, while looking for opportunities to expand, as it successfully has in Australia," Bapcor chief executive Darryl Abotomey said in a statement.

"The fact that interests representing approximately 30 per cent of Hellaby's shares have already agreed to accept the offer speaks for itself - particularly as these interests have been long-term holders of the stock who understand the business well."

Hellaby has been overhauling its portfolio and investment strategy under new managing director Alan Clarke, who took over the reins last November, to exit non-core businesses and focus on its automotive and resource services units. Last month the investment firm posted a 30 per cent decline in annual profit to $19.6m, having lowered earnings guidance earlier this year.

Salt Funds, Accident Compensation Corp and the former Hugh Green Holdings, now called Castle Investments, have agreed to sell to the Australian company.

"Bapcor believes that no other competing takeover is likely to be forthcoming given that certain Hellaby shareholders have irrevocably agreed to accept this offer," it said in its takeover notice.

The Australian firm may waive the condition to achieve 90 per cent, providing it gets more than half of the shares on issue and Overseas Investment Office approval, in which case it would seek board representation to push for a shift in Hellaby's direction.

The deal will be funded through debt from Australia & New Zealand Banking Group and A$185m of new equity raised through a fully underwritten A$165m institutional placement, and A$20m share purchase plan.

Bapcor said if it doesn't succeed in taking over Hellaby it plans to enter the New Zealand automotive market either organically or through an acquisition.

The ASX-listed company's shares last traded at A$6.16.

- BusinessDesk

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