19th Apr, 2006: MELBOURNE - One of the world's largest malt producers, with extensive Australian operations, is up for sale with a $US300 million ($A406.5 million) tag.
C&T Malt, a joint venture between US food company ConAgra Foods and South African branded food and healthcare company Tiger Brands, is being offered to potential buyers.
C&T Malt supplies all of CUB's malt in Australia under a long-term contract. It also supplies malt to Budweiser producer Anheuser Busch, SABMiller, Scottish & Newcastle, Coors and Belgium brewer InBev.
The jewel in C&T's crown is its Australian operations, the Richmond-based malting outfit Barrett Burston.
The company runs plants in Geelong and Burnley, Toowoomba in Queensland and Thornleigh in New South Wales. It also owns 10 other malting plants in Britain and Canada.
It is believed that rural services provider Elders and private equity firm Castle Harlan Australian Mezzanine Partners have recently taken a look at the business.
Spokesmen for Futuris -- Elders' parent company -- and CHAMP would not comment.
It is believed that Tiger wants to exit the commodities market and expand further into branded foods.
Tiger Brands boss Noel Boyle would not respond specifically to emailed questions from BusinessDaily regarding a sale of C&T Malt.
"We have no comment other than that in our annual report," he said in an email.
The company's most recent annual report says: "Tiger's investments in C&T Malt (50 per cent shareholding) . . . (are) regarded as non-core and will be disposed of in due course."
Analysts said an agribusiness such as Elders or AWB's Landmark was a logical buyer of a malting company as it would allow them to make money on either side of the supply chain.
On one hand, the business sells inputs to farmers for grain growing. It can then match the output, the crop, with a buyer, such as its own malting company.
Other parties that would logically run the ruler over C&T Malt include stockfeed producer Ridley Corporation and ABB Grain, which already owns Joe White Maltings.
The world's top two malt producers -- Groupe Soufflet and Cargill -- would also be logical suitors.