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Australia: several non-binding indicative offers for SPC

22/02/2019 - François-Xavier Branthôme
Coca-Cola Amatil urged to prioritise the sustainability of the Goulburn Valley when selecting a buyer for SPC

Coca-Cola Amatil's profits fell to AUD 279 million from AUD 445 million the previous year, the company said, as it slashed the value of its Shepparton-based food processor, SPC. Excluding the struggling SPC, Coca-Cola Amatil’s profits were down 6.5 per cent to AUD 388.5 million, which the company said was affected by the AUD 40 million being reinvested into the business as part of a national growth plan, the impact of a container deposit scheme in NSW, and "challenging" trading conditions facing its operations in Indonesia.
CCA said it had received several non-binding indicative offers for SPC, Australia's largest processor of packaged fruit and vegetables, which was put up for sale in November following a strategic review. On 18 February, the company wrote down the value of SPC to zero dollars, with a AUD 147 million write-down brought on by the "size and structure" of the bids it was receiving for it, and the "inherent uncertainty of the financial outcome of the sale process". CCA bought SPC for AUD 700 million in 2005, and has cut its value in a series of write-downs - by AUD 80 million in 2012, by AUD 146 million in 2013, and AUD 404 million in 2014, and AUD 172 million in 2016. It launched a review of SPC in August, and in November confirmed it would sell the business, which it expects to run at an AUD 10 million loss this year.

At the time of slicing the value of the SCP business in its books, CCA cited the complexity of several bids received so far and uncertainty around how the sale process would play out. "The bidders that we’ve had through can really see the growth potential," said Chief executive Alison Watkins, who added that about a dozen local and international potential buyers had inspected the operations.

Independent Shepparton MP Suzanna Sheed urged the international soft-drink giant to "look beyond financial considerations", and consider the sustainability of the Goulburn Valley when finalising the sale of SPC.

SPC employs more than 200 full-time workers and hundreds more seasonal staff mostly around the Goulburn Valley in northern Victoria, where it is also major buyer of produce from the region's fruit and tomato farmers.

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