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Danone steps closer to drinks purchase


While Frucor's independent directors search for a rival takeover offer, French suitor Groupe Danone has tightened its grip on the drinks maker, IndustrySearch reports. Frucor's major shareholder, Pacific Equity Partners, has accepted an offer from Danone for its 38 per cent stake. Danone, the world's biggest water bottler, launched a $294 million bid for Frucor last month, offering $2.35 a share for all of the company. Pacific Equity's acceptance of the offer, before the company's independent directors release their recommendation and an independent valuation of the company next week, was necessary if it was to take advantage of an escalation clause, which allows it to receive extra money if Danone lifts its offer price. Pacific Equity and associates, including Bain Pacific which had granted Danone an option over its 19.9 per cent, hold around 47 million of Frucor's 125 million shares on issue. Frucor's independent directors are seeking counter-offers to the Danone bid and investment bankers Credit Suisse First Boston are working through a list of potential suitors.Danone's offer must remain open until December 7. The Frucor directors advised shareholders to delay their decision until they made their recommendation.

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