Ann Crotty Writer-at-large
Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

The share price of Sovereign Food Investments shot to a high of R13 on Friday after its cautionary announcement of talks that if successful could have a material effect on the share price.

The share price movement (on a small volume) may force Country Bird Holdings to increase its offer to more than R9 for control of Sovereign if it chooses to resume its bid.

Country Bird holds 34% of Sovereign and in September will be allowed to relaunch an offer that was suspended by the takeover regulation panel in 2016.

Market commentators were puzzled by the announcement given that any transaction that would have a material effect on the share price would be a substantial one and would require the approval of at least 75% of the shareholders.

It is unlikely that Country Bird would approve a trans-action that might complicate its attempts to get control. Country Bird CEO Marthinus Stander said on Friday he had noted the announcement. "We have no knowledge of what they are doing. If it’s significant I assume they’ll need our backing."

One former Sovereign investor said it was possible the board had found a white knight who would be prepared to out-bid Country Bird.

"It’s possible even Country Bird would be persuaded to sell its stake at around R13 a share," said the investor. All the players were keen for some industry consolidation, he said. Sovereign was capable of generating earnings of as much as R2 a share if management kept its eye on the business.

Earlier speculation of a tie-up with Daybreak Farms has been dismissed largely because of that company’s operational and debt challenges.

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