Lyttelton offer amounts to premium up to 14%, recommended by independent adviser

Christchurch City Holdings’ offer to mop up the remaining shares in Lyttelton Port Co amounts to a premium of up to 14 percent, according to a report from the independent adviser that recommends it be accepted.

Christchurch City Council’s investment and infrastructure unit, which already owns about 79.6 percent of the port, has entered into a lock-up agreement with Port Otago for its 15.5 percent holding, and will offer $3.95 a share to mop up the remaining stock.  The offer includes Lyttelton Port paying a special dividend of 20 cents a share, for a total of $4.15. The stock last traded at $4.11.

A report from Northington Partners, commissioned by Lyttelton Port’s in dependent directors, values the port company at between $3.35 and $3.65, with a mid-point of $3.50 and concludes that the “significant premium” may have been needed to win the support of Port Otago, which is needed to ensure the city’s investment company can get to 100 percent ownership.

Northington says the likelihood of an alternative offer are “virtually nil.”

Lyttelton is New Zealand’s fourth-biggest port and the largest in the South Island, handling 6.56 million tonnes of freight in the year to June. That puts it behind Port of Tauranga, with 1.1 million tonnes, Northport on 8.8 million and Ports of Auckland on about 8 million tonnes, Northington said, citing government figures.

Last week Lyttelton Port reported a net profit of $343.2 million in the year ended June 30, swelled by a $328.2 million insurance payment. Underlying earnings, excluding the earthquake payments, were flat at $15.1 million, the lower end of its forecast range of $15 million to $16 million, as expenses rose faster than sales.

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