There has been another State of Origin victory to Queensland with Brisbane’s billion-dollar-a year fruit and vegie markets at Rocklea seeing off a hostile takeover bid by a Sydney venture capital firm.
Sydney private equity firm VGI Partners in March 2016 offered $145 million to take over the operation of the Brisbane fruit and vegetable markets, which is run by Brisbane Markets Limited.
Brisbane Markets’ biggest shareholder is Queensland Chamber of Fruit and Vegetable Industries, which trades as Brismark.
Brismark owns 33.89 per cent of Brisbane Markets Limited and Sydney firm VGI Partners also owned 20 per cent of Brisbane Markets Limited.
VGI Partners between January and March 2016 questioned Brisbane Markets’ costs in running the fruit and vegetable markets at Rocklea.
However despite four firms showing some interest in March 2016 in the takeover offer from VGI Partners, no firm offers were ever accepted, Brisbane Markets chief executive Andrew Young said.
He said fruit and vegie growers – and their representative groups – simply did not want a venture capital firm owning Brisbane Markets.
He said VGI Partners offer to buy out the Rocklea Markets had now lapsed.
“The actual bid lapsed at 5pm on Friday, but they signalled this Friday a week ago they signalled they were withdrawing,” Mr Young said.
He said no other Brismark stakeholders expressed any interest in the VGI offer.
“No, Brismark were a strong opponent to the bid,” Mr Young said.
“Brismark just basically didn’t want a private equity company as a landlord and its members were expressing concerns at what it would mean for them,” he said.
Mr Young said the Brisbane Markets would press on with redevelopments at the Rocklea markets, including building a new 5000 square metre warehouse and renovating older warehouses on the site.
Its owns 77 hectares of land at Rocklea, which includes the markets, warehouses, storerooms and commercial office space.
He said VGI Partners was more than likely interested in Brisbane Markets as a “property company”.
“We’re investing in things like maintenance, which a private equity firm may be more interested in dropping,” he suggested.
Mr Young said fighting off the Sydney takeover bid was expensive.
“Oh yes, those things come at a substantial cost,” he said.
“This ran over seven months itself, so there is a very substantial cost,” he said.
A VGI Partners spokesman could not be contacted on Monday.
Brisbane Markets chairman Tony Joseph said VGI Partners could not convince Brisbane Market shareholders to sell.
“Ultimately shareholders, which include fruit and vegetable growers, wholesalers, secondary wholesaler and retailers, expressed a very strong vote of confidence to stick with the existing ownership and management structure,” Mr Joseph said.
“Without the distraction of this ever-increasing hostile bid, we can now get on with the business of running the markets for the benefit of Brisbane market shareholders and the industry alike,” he said.
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