French food group Danone on Thursday made a final extension to its bid for New Zealand drinks maker Frucor Beverages Group Ltd but left the bid price unchanged at NZ$2.35 a share.
Danone, which specialises in bottled water, dairy and biscuit products, extended the deadline until January 18 from January 4 and said in a statement that no further extension would be made.
"We've made our position very clear on how we see the value of Frucor and nothing has changed in that regard. All we are doing is extending the offer...being cognisant of the fact that everyone in New Zealand disappears for a summer break over Christmas," Danone Asia managing director Simon Israel told Reuters in a telephone interview from Singapore.
The bid, which values the NZ company at NZ$294 million, is for a minimum 90 percent and has now been extended three times.
Having spent a month trading above the offer price on the hopes of a competing bid or a increased offer price from Danone, Frucor shares closed on Thursday up one cent at NZ$2.32.
"That's where you'd expect it to be trading because the differential is just the time value of money between now and our closing," Israel said.
Analysts say the attraction of Frucor, which makes the "V" energy drink as well as a range of juice, bottled water and soft drinks, is its established distribution networks and market presence in Australia and New Zealand, as well as brands Danone can expand into its large Asian markets.
Under New Zealand's takeovers law, changes to the 90 acceptance level and the price can still be made and were not ruled out by Danone.
Frucor's independent directors have previously said the bid is too low and have recommended shareholders hold off accepting the offer while they seek a competing bid.
An independent valuation by Grant Samuel & Associates has put fair value of Frucor shares at NZ$2.53 to NZ$2.96.
"The independent valuation is driven by a set of assumptions and projections that we don't agree with," Israel said.
The offer was at a healthy 39 percent premium to the weighted average trading price over three months prior to the bid, he added.
"Can you say that's not reasonable in the absence of another offer? Fair is another question," he said.