October 18, 2018 / 2:53 AM / 10 months ago

New Zealand KFC, Pizza Hut operator gets $578 million takeover offer, shares soar

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Restaurant Brands New Zealand Ltd, operator of KFC and Pizza Hut franchises, said it was in takeover talks with Mexico-based Finaccess Capital which made a $578 million bid for a controlling stake, sending its shares to record highs.

A general view shows fast food restaurants KFC, Pizza Hut and Hardee's at Americana Plaza Mall in Cairo, Egypt, September 10, 2018. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Files

Finaccess Capital, S.A. de C.V., an investment firm, offered NZ$9.45 ($6.18) per share for up to three quarters of Restaurant Brands, which represents a premium of about 24.3 percent to the last closing price.

Auckland-based Restaurant Brands’ shares soared about 14 percent to a record high of NZ$8.72, their biggest jump since September 2009.

“Looks like a very attractive offer for shareholders. But it is surprising that they want only 75 percent of the company rather than 100 percent,” said Brian Gaynor, director of Milford Asset Management.

The sale of a 75-percent stake to Finaccess could have a negative impact on the liquidity of the stock, he added.

The franchise operator said the approach was non-binding and indicative and there was no guarantee that Finaccess would proceed with a takeover.

Separately, the fast-food group said first-half net profit rose 7 percent to NZ$20.4 million, supported by a push overseas. Restaurant Brands said it did not declare a dividend for the period as the offer price in the proposal was subject to adjustment for any dividend paid.

In September, the Auckland-based firm said it would not renew a two-decade-old deal with Starbucks Corp in a region where an entrenched coffee culture has made it difficult for the world’s largest coffee chain to thrive.

Finaccess already holds a controlling interest in Spain-based restaurant operator AmRest Holdings SE.

($1 = 1.5295 New Zealand dollars)

Reporting by Aditya Soni in Bengaluru; Praveen Menon and Marius Zaharia in Wellington; Editing by Stephen Coates

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