The Maryborough Sugar Factory has found interest from Asian group, Mitr Phol Sugar Corp.
The Maryborough Sugar Factory has found interest from Asian group, Mitr Phol Sugar Corp. Karleila Thomsen

Thai groups raid sugar shares

MARYBOROUGH Sugar Factory has hit international headlines after a major Asian operator made plans to secure a 19.9 per cent interest in the business.

Thailand company Mitr Phol Sugar Corp has entered into an agreement to buy a significant share of MSF from Sir Ron Brierley's investment company Guinness Peat Group, the Australian Securities Exchange has announced.

Guinness Peat holds a 24.47 per cent stake in Maryborough Sugar.

Mitr Phol operates sugar cane mills in Thailand, China and Laos.

In a company announcement Maryborough Sugar Factory said the proposed acquisition price was understood to be $4 per share in cash, conditional upon Mitr Phol obtaining a seat on the board of MSF.

It is also subject to Foreign Investment Review Board approval to exceed 14.9 per cent if required and the confirmation of certain matters relating to the northern milling joint venture.

Maryborough Sugar announced a 50/50 venture with Bundaberg Sugar in April in a $20 million agreement that linked its Mulgrave Mill with three Bundaberg mills in the north at South Johnstone, Babinda and Tableland.

The MSF announcement released yesterday said the company would be unable to respond to Mitr Phol's requests until after talks with the new shareholder.

The release said Mitr Phol had to date not participated in this process and the Maryborough board was not aware of Mitr Phol's intentions or value add.

The Kent Street factory has been evaluating options for the funding of its growth strategy, including the possibility of developing a relationship with a strategic party, and is in discussions with a number of potential interested parties.

“MSF look forward to discussing with Mitr Phol their intentions and how Mitr Phol may help create value for all shareholders,” the company announcement said.

“Until MSF has evaluated this it will be unable to determine its response to Mitr Phol's requests.”

MSF first listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in 1956.

Business experts were yesterday describing Maryborough Sugar as a strategic asset which represented one of the last substantial opportunities for an international food or commodities group to get a toehold in the Australian sugar sector.



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