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Wed 17 Sep 2014 01:13 PM

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Kuwait's Americana says major shareholder mulling stake options

Kuwait Food Co asks for its shares to be suspended while shareholder reviews its portfolio

Kuwait's Americana says major shareholder mulling stake options

Kuwait Food Co (Americana) asked for its shares to be suspended on the Kuwaiti bourse on Wednesday after its main shareholder said it was reviewing its portfolio, including its stake in the firm.

Americana said Al Khair National for Stocks and Real Estate Co was working with unidentified financial and legal advisers to look at its strategic options, which included action related to its holding in one of the Gulf's largest food firms.

The firm is owned by the al-Kharafi family, the majority shareholder in Americana.

The food maker has been in focus since Reuters reported in April that the Kharafis, a billionaire merchant family with 66.8 percent of the firm, had hired investment bank Rothschild to explore a possible sale.

This is the first time that either Americana or the Kharafis have disclosed any potential changes in the company's ownership.

In its bourse filing, Americana said it had provided a copy of a letter from its top shareholder to the Kuwait bourse which had informed it of Al Khair's move on Tuesday.

Americana also referenced another letter from the Kharafi entity which was dated July 17, 2014, and had been sent to the bourse and the stock market regulator, the Kuwait Capital Markets Authority, at the time.

It did not disclose the nature of the July letter in Wednesday's filing.

Americana said in previous bourse statements, including one on Tuesday, that its board and executive management had no knowledge of any proposals to acquire the company and the firm had not received any offers.

Saudi Arabia's Savola Group said on Aug. 13 it had held preliminary talks with one of Americana's major shareholders about a potential deal. On Tuesday it disclosed it had hired JP Morgan to advise it.

A joint offer from private equity firms KKR & Co and CVC Capital Partners and a bid from a third interested party could be lodged by a deadline for second-round bids in mid-October, sources told Reuters.

Americana, which has a market value of around $4.3 billion, added in Wednesday's statement that it had requested trade in its stock be halted to protect it from the potential impact of "inaccurate information".

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