Speculation rife on SPC

By Geoff Adams

Prospective buyers for SPC have been sniffing around the factory, but it was not yet clear who has the inside running.

The News understands the owner, Coca Cola Amatil, is keen to move the sale ahead in the first part of the year, but is not saying anything about who the favoured purchaser is.

They have said they expected a sale to be concluded by mid-year and there had been ‘‘interest from overseas’’.

During the past few weeks, there has been media reports grower, packer and warehouser Geoffrey Thompson Holdings is interested.

But they are not saying anything to us, yet.

Certainly, a local buyer with experience in handling fruit would have to put them at the front of the pack in terms of being a preferred buyer and, with a substantial asset backing, they would certainly have the capacity to borrow the cash for a new purchase.

But whether they would want to get into the fraught area of Australian food processing?

There have been several groups which have toured the Shepparton factory, no doubt spurred on by the news CCA has almost written off the value of the whole SPC operation, leading to speculation a bargain could be available.

The price tag is certainly nowhere near the $500million or so CCA paid for it 15 years ago. The company has invested about $250million since then.

The News understands a community group, pulling together different business people, has also put its hand up.

And there is the former SPC chair, Haset Sali, who told The News earlier this year he was interested in being part of a buy-out.