Aussie Farm Services Company Elders Has Some Big Questions To Answer After Confirming Interest From Private Equity

Allan Langer sheers a sheep during the Queensland Maroons State of Origin visit to Longreach on June 10, 2014 in Longreach, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Agribusiness Elders, which two weeks ago told the ASX it didn’t know why trading in its shares had intensified, today confirmed it was being looked at by interested parties including private equity group Pacific Equity Partners, live export group Wellard and Asian investors.

CEO Mark Allison told Fairfax Media:

“Private equity [groups] are looking at us given we are getting to the point of a turnaround.”

“There is no formal discussion. We are just the running the business as per our operational priorities, being methodical and getting the debt down to an acceptable level.”

This morning this information had not yet been lodged with the ASX. The last notice from Elders to the ASX was on Friday and had nothing to do with possible suitors for the Adelaide-based company.

Elders on June 27, when answering an ASX query about why its shares went to 20 cents from 13.5 cents in one week, said it had no new information and that the company believed it was within compliance of listing rules.

Mark Allison, who became CEO in April, was reported to be travelling in Queensland.

A short time ago, Allison issued a new statement to the ASX saying it had recently received a number of informal, incomplete and confidential approaches. However, there were no “live” proposals being considered by the Board of Directors of Elders.

Elder, a 175-year-old agribusiness, has been struggling since the GFC but in May it reported a half-year profit of $6.7 million compared to a $23.7 million loss the year before.

Elders shares have doubled to 25 cents since the middle of May.

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