ELDERS managing director Malcolm Jackman has been mulling his options over the weekend after Ruralco submitted a final bid in the order of $300 million for Elders Rural Services on Thursday night.
The beleaguered Elders entered a trading halt on Friday as it buys time to assess final offers for both rural services and its Futuris Automotive, while leaving the door open for rival bidders.
Ruralco confirmed it had made the bid just before the market closed on Friday, although in its statement the company said "no agreement has been entered into and there is no certainty a transaction will complete".
Some industry sources said Ruralco's final offer was actually below $300 million, which means there's unlikely to be much, if any, value left on the table for equity investors or holders of the $150 million worth of hybrid equity.
In a statement to the market on Friday, Elders said it had received final, or near-final bids for both businesses and advised that trading in its shares would be halted until Tuesday, June 18 or earlier if an announcement concerning the bids is made.
"As those bids require analysis, consultation with secured lenders and consideration by the Elders Board and potentially further negotiations on key terms, Elders is not in a position to make an immediate announcement in connection with those bids," the company said.
Ruralco, which already holds a 12 per cent stake in Elders, was always considered the most logical buyer of rural services because of the potential synergies it could extract from the asset.
Expectations mounted last month when the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said it would not oppose Ruralco if it launched a takeover for Elders Rural Services.
It's unclear what sort of price Elders has been offered for Futuris, which analysts have suggested would be attractive to private equity, but it is unlikely to deviate too far from its book value of $75 million.