Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Minority shareholders vote against Aqua’s go private

Listed bottled water giant PT Aqua Golden Mississipi Tbk, indirectly controlled by Danone Group (France), found it is so hard to exit from Jakarta Stock Exchange (JSX) after majority of independent shareholders rejected the company’s plan to go private in a third meeting yesterday.

The meeting, attended by 76.88% of independent shareholders, failed to approve Aqua’s go private as 51.05% of minority shareholders who held 6.4% of the company’s stakes voted against the plan.

PT Tirta Investama is controlling 91% shares of Aqua. Danone holds 60% shares of Tirta.

Antara reported that independent shareholders rejected the management’s offer of acquisition price at Rp100,000 (almost US$10) per share. The offered price was 69.5% premium to the highest price in the past 90 days of trading.

No details about the price asked by independent shareholders. But some says they’re looking for US$100 per shares, ten times the tender offer price.

As a result of the rejection, the company has decided not to make another tender offer even though Capital Market Supervisory Body (Bapepam) allows it to do so 12 months after the meeting.

Aqua might use different strategy, for example, through a voluntary de-listing.

Aqua argues it going private to consolidate and integrate its operation in line with the global policy of Danone. The French company acquired Aqua, the leading brand, which held over half of the Indonesian home and office delivery (HOD) market, in 2001.

The company submitted the go private plan in 2001. But every time it failed to conduct the shareholders meeting, in the absence of necessary percentage of independent shareholders. Last month, the company failed to conduct shareholder meeting as less than 75% of independent shareholders shown up. Last week, Bapepam reduced the quota to 50%, but Aqua failed to get majority approval from minority shareholders.

Some says this is a tyranny of minority, but others claimed that as a big win for small and independent shareholders in a capital market with the dominance of issuers.



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