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Rejected suitor for Australia's CBH to push for EGM to revive deal

SYDNEY - A takeover consortium spurned by Australia's largest wheat exporter, Cooperative Bulk Handling Ltd (CBH), will seek to force an emergency meeting of the grain handler in an attempt to revive its bid, two sources said on Tuesday. CBH on M...

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SYDNEY - A takeover consortium spurned by Australia's largest wheat exporter, Cooperative Bulk Handling Ltd (CBH), will seek to force an emergency meeting of the grain handler in an attempt to revive its bid, two sources said on Tuesday.

CBH on Monday rejected a proposal by GrainCorp Ltd -backed consortium, Australian Grains Champion (AGC), to acquire and immediately list the bulk grain handler, in a deal value by analysts at up A$3 billion ($2.2 billion).

AGC said the deal was not in the best interests of its farmer shareholders, and were concerned east coast grain handler GrainCorp could eventually launch a full takeover.

Despite the rejection, the consortium, which includes some CBH shareholders, plans to continue to lobby CBH farmers in a series of meetings in Western Australia over the next several weeks, the sources familiar with the consortium's strategy said.

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AGC was "very confident" it could secure the required 10 percent support of CBH's 4,200 shareholders to force an emergency general meeting (EGM) to demand that CBH allow a vote on the consortium's proposal, one of the sources said.

"AGC is looking to build a tipping point, and is confident that it can get the necessary support for the EGM in the next month," the source said.

To sweeten its offer, AGC last week withdrew a A$16 million break fee liable should CBH shareholders reject its proposal.

"AGC repeatedly said it will not cost CBH anything to hold a vote on its proposal, so I would support a vote," said one CBH shareholder, who declined to be named and has attended a meeting with AGC.

Despite rejecting the offer on Monday, CBH said it would consult shareholders on its future structure and report its findings by the end of September - seen by some a precursor to change.

"I'm not surprised by CBH's announcement on AGC, but I do think things will change," said Belinda Moore, analyst, Morgans Financial Limited.

Analysts said rivals to AGC could soon emerge. CBH said on Monday that it has received several expressions of interest from unnamed third parties.

It declined to name the potential suitors, although one Australian media report linked U.S. cooperative CHS Inc as a potential suitor.

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A spokesperson for CHS declined to confirm or deny the report approach to CBH.

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