By Ian Neubauer

Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA) managing director Terry Davis said he is unopposed to another takeover bid by Kirin Holdings of Japan – if the price is right.

Speaking at a business lunch hosted by the Australian Israel Chamber of Commerce (AICC) at the Westin Sydney yesterday (Apr 30), Davis made the comments after being asked if he was ideologically opposed to selling CCA to a foreign-owned entity.

"Kirin-Lion may put the offer back on the table,” Davis said. “I don’t think it matters to us who pays our shareholders [as long as they pay] a lot of money. If the Japanese can borrow money at 1.5 per cent to buy us out… I say go for it.”

Davis’ comments hark back to November last year, when Kirin launched a failed bid to acquire CCA through its proxy Lion Nathan for $8 billion.

“In the case of the Lion Nathan proposal… the question is of price, and in particular their ability to be able to fund a much higher bid,” he said at the time.

Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey MP, who also spoke at the business lunch, said there was no reason for concern over Kirin’s growing business interests in Australia.

“Our only concern is when it is not in the national interest,” he said. “It is only when a foreign [organisation] has political – not commercial – interest in our companies.”

Moderator Ali Moore of the ABC then threw a spanner into the works, comparing Kirin’s complete takeover of Lion and its growing footprint in the Australian F&B sector to Chinalco’s attempt to acquire a larger share of Australian mining giant Rio Tinto.

Hockey said it was like comparing chalk and cheese as Kirin was a privately owned company and Chinalco was a vehicle of the Chinese Government. “Ask yourself, would you want a government-controlled entity buying stakes into Australian assets?” he said.

The Shout Team

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