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Danone wins juicy Frucor victory

Danone is best known for its yogurt and its Evian mineral water but wants to take Frucor's energy drinks to Asia  

By Alex Frew McMillan
CNN Hong Kong

WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- Shares in Frucor Beverages Ltd. jumped 2.2 percent on Monday, as Danone succeeded in its takeover bid for the juice maker.

Danone won acceptances from more than 90 percent of the Kiwi company's shareholders for its NZ$294 million ($125 million) offer, which expired Friday.

The deal values the company at NZ$2.35 a share. Frucor's stock leaped five cents to NZ$2.33 on Monday.

Danone needed to win 90 percent of the vote. Now that it has, it will launch a compulsory purchase of the rest of Frucor's stock and delist the company.

But the three-month takeover was far from a sure thing. The New Zealand company's independent directors originally recommended rejecting Danone's overtures.

Selling energy drinks in Asia

Frucor is New Zealand's largest juice maker and its second-largest drinks company. Best known for juices like the Fresh-Up and Just Juice brands, it also makes sports drinks and bottled waters.

Paris-based Danone is best known for its yogurt and its Evian brand mineral water. But it is looking to expand into other kinds of drinks.

Danone hopes to use its big distribution network to sell Frucor products like V, a "New Age" energy drink, through Asia.

Last year, Frucor was named one of the world's most promising 20 small companies by Forbes magazine. But it has had trouble breaking into new markets like the United Kingdom, where it has had substantial distribution problems.

Board rejected offer at first

Danone first bid for the company in October. But Frucor's directors called it "inadequate" and recommended waiting for other offers. An outside assessment pegged the company's value at NZ$2.53 to $2.96 a share.

No other offers came, and the directors changed their tune on January 8, telling shareholders to accept.

Still, market watchers were unsure whether Danone would succeed in cornering enough stock to force a sale. Thanks to a late selling rush, it said on Friday evening that it had landed 90.69 percent of the company.

Frucor's rise helped the NZSE-40 index higher on Monday, a partial holiday in Wellington. New Zealand's Top 40 index rose 0.31 percent to close at 2,106.89.

Frucor's stock will stop trading this Friday, and its stock will be delisted on January 31.


• Asian 2002 stock rally ends
January 8, 2002
• Frucor wants more from Danone
December 21, 2001
• Frucor holds out for higher price
November 23, 2001
• Danone bids $123M for NZ's Frucor
October 24, 2001



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