ASX Release: Coca Cola Amatil | To Explore New Options for SPC

Coca-Cola Amatil has today announced the commencement of a strategic review of growth options for SPC – Australia’s leading processor of packaged fruit and vegetables.

Group Managing Director of Coca-Cola Amatil, Ms Alison Watkins, said the review coincides with completion of a four-year, $100 million co-investment in SPC in conjunction with the Victorian Government. Investment under this agreement was completed in June 2018 and included $22 million by the Victorian Government and $78 million by Coca-Cola Amatil.

“As we said at the time, without this investment the future of Australia’s best-loved packaged fruit and vegetable brands were in question,” Ms Watkins said.

“With this investment we kept SPC operating, invested in modernising the plant and created new business opportunities.

“These included new tomato and high-speed snack lines, a new aseptic fruit processing system and new export opportunities including China, all of which will support ongoing growth.

“The co-investment is complete, and now is the right time to consider options for the business.

“We believe there are many opportunities for growth in SPC, including new products and markets, further efficiency improvements, and technology and intellectual property. The review will look at how this growth could be unlocked, potentially through a change in ownership, alliances or mergers.

“Importantly, there are no plans to close SPC. We see a positive future for SPC as it continues to transform its operations.”

SPC is recognised as one of Australia’s most-loved brands, and is a household name in fruit, vegetables, baked beans and spaghetti. More recently, SPC expanded its range into specialised age-care products and premium sales in export markets.

Since acquiring SPC in 2005, Coca-Cola Amatil has invested around $250 million of capital in the business, including in technology and equipment.

Coca-Cola Amatil has engaged consultancy Kidder Williams to assist with the strategic review.

The review of SPC does not affect an ongoing sale process relating to Taylors and IXL brands, which was announced by SPC in early 2018.


Market doesn’t rate ‘Rate My Agent’ float

Myriam Robin

It was a disappointing ASX debut for David Williams-backed agent comparison website Rate My Agent whose $92 million ASX listing was worth just $75.4 million by close-of-trade.

Though Williams is still well in the money. He was one of the company’s earliest investors, having lobbed in $1 million in 2014, and now owns 27.6 per cent worth of some $20.8 million (around $5 million less than what it was valued at the start of trade).

Williams’ firm Kidder Williams received a fee of $800k for conducting the IPO, half paid in shares. Kidder Williams had also advised the company on a $5 million capital raise in 2016, and was paid in shares then too. The company as a whole was valued at $20 million at that point, so Williams’ stake has appreciated at least four-fold since 2016, even with today’s fall.

Not letting the disappointing first day’s trade dampen their spirits were the lawyers at MinterElIison, who advised on the float. ”This is a big step for RMA, with the IPO receiving overwhelming support from investors,” said MinterEllison lead partner Bart Oude-Vrielink in a congratulatory press release. Which is one way of framing an 18 per cent fall.

Other early investors in the company include stockbroker Dean Smorgon, scion of the Smorgon dynasty, and online entrepreneur Gabby Leibovich.

Investors Eye Costa Farms

Andrew Marshall

Investment fund managers are anticipating horticulture’s Costa family to list its farming properties in a $285 million real estate investment trust.

The farms supply the Australian Securities Exchange-listed Costa Group with raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, mandarins and oranges and are valued at about $285 million.

Costa family office chief executive officer Liza Whitmore and agribusiness investment adviser, David Williams, from Kidder Williams, reportedly met fund managers in Hong Kong last week to promote the REIT.

A product disclosure statement is expected to be lodged this week.