Ruralco Holdings Limited has this afternoon confirmed that it has made an offer to Elders Limited to acquire the Elders Rural Services business.
It has advised in a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange that no agreement has been entered into and there is no certainty that a transaction will complete.
Ruralco's statement said the company will update the market in accordance with its continuous disclosure obligations.
Elders Limited shares have entered a trading halt this morning amidst growing speculation an announcement regarding an acquisiont by Ruralco is imminent.
Elders requested a trading halt at 10am today.
In an accompanying statement to the exchange, company secretary Peter Hastings said Elders had received one or more final, or near final bids, for each of its Elders Rural Services and Futuris Automotive businesses.
“As those bids require analysis, consultation with secured lenders and consideration by the Elders Board and potentially further negotiations on key terms, Elders is not in a position to make an immediate announcement in connection with those bids,” Mr Hastings said.
“Elders requests that the trading halt continues until the commencement of trading on Tuesday, 18 June 2013 or the making of an announcement in connection with the bids, if earlier.”
The ASX approved the trading halt until the commencement of normal trading on Tuesday, or when a further announcement is released to the market.
The development follows an announcement by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on May 30 that it would not oppose Ruralco’s proposed acquisition of Elders Rural Services Limited.
While both organisations operated national networks of agri-product retail outlets and both provided a range of rural services, the ACCC said it did not believe competition would be constrained by a Ruralco/Elders marriage.
"The ACCC considered that in most towns with both a Ruralco and Elders retail store, the combined rural services retail networks of the merger parties would be constrained by alternative retail suppliers of agri-products located nearby," ACCC chairman, Rod Sims, said.
“In the small number of towns where the merger parties face limited competition from alternative agri-product retailers, the ACCC considered that existing or potential new retail suppliers of agri-products could readily enter or expand into these markets.”
More details on the ACCC’s decision are available here