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Offer for Wrightson increased to $1.65 per share

Offer for Wrightson increased to $1.65 per share

The takeover offer by Rural Portfolio Investments Limited (RPI) for shares in Wrightson has been increased by 15 cents per share to $1.65.

The Managing Director of RPI, Craig Norgate, said the company was confident shareholders would find the new price extremely attractive. “$1.65 is 33 percent higher than the market price before the announcement of our offer – and 36 percent higher than the volume-weighted average price since Wrightson’s most recent trading results were announced,” he said.

“The new price is also well within the fair value range indicated by the Independent Adviser’s Report, prepared by Grant Samuel & Associates. It is, in fact, higher than Wrightson shares have ever traded since being listed a decade ago.”

The increased price applies to all those who accept the offer, including those who have already accepted.

Mr Norgate said the decision to increase the price reflected feedback RPI had received from a number of parties that, whilst the previous offer was more than fair, an offer within the independent advisor’s range was necessary to gain unequivocal support, and such an offer would succeed. “We understand that significant institutional shareholders will accept the offer, and that the major broking houses will recommend acceptance to their clients,” he said.

Along with the change in price, Rural Portfolio Investments has put a proposal to the Wrightson board of directors which would allow the company to return additional value to shareholders by paying part of the $1.65 offer price by way of a fully imputed pre-acquisition special dividend of up to 14 cents per share. If adopted by the board and confirmed by RPI, this would allow the value of existing imputation credits, which might otherwise be lost on a change of control, to be passed directly to existing shareholders.

In the interests of shareholders, Rural Portfolio Investments has also decided to extend the closing date to Wednesday 23 June 2004. Mr Norgate said the extension was designed to provide shareholders with the maximum opportunity to consider the increased price.

Under the terms of the offer, the offer price of $1.65 can be taken either in Cash, in Redeemable Preference Shares in Rural Portfolio Investments Securities Limited, or in a mix of cash and Redeemable Preference Shares. This allows Wrightson shareholders the opportunity to realise a price considerably higher than recent market prices for the shares – and, if they wish, to switch from an exposure to the Wrightson share price into a fixed-rate investment with a yield much higher than the reduced normal Wrightson dividend.

Mr Norgate noted that no brokerage was payable by shareholders selling into the offer, as any brokerage is being paid by Rural Portfolio Investments.

Formal notice of these variations will be mailed to shareholders tomorrow, along with a letter providing further information about RPI’s intentions for Wrightson.

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