A2 Milks board has received interest from other possible suitors

A2 Milk's board has received interest from other possible suitors

Freedom Foods Group has refused to be drawn on whether it and fellow suitor Dean Foods will table a new expression of interest in New Zealand milk group A2 Milk Co.

On Monday (20 July), A2 Milk announced its board had turned down the joint proposal from Australia's Freedom Foods and the US dairy giant.

Rory Macleod, Freedom Foods' MD, told just-food today the companies "continue to progress an evaluation of our expression of interest".

He added: "We have made no further announcement to the ASX [Australia's stock exchange] to our prior announcement on A2. Recent announcements from A2 are their comments, which we have noted with interest."

Asked if Freedom Foods - already a shareholder in A2 Milk - and Dean Foods could return with a new expression of interest, Macleod declined to comment.

A2 Milk said on Monday its board "does not consider that the proposal in the expression of interest is compelling", although the company indicated it was open to further talks.

However, A2 Milk said its board had received "other confidential enquiries indicating potential interest in the company" and was weighing up the interest.

A2 Milk is dual listed in New Zealand and Australia. It claims to account for 9% of the "total fresh milk grocery market" in Australia.

It has also built operations in China, the UK and, most recently, the US, where it launched its milk this spring.

In a separate announcement on Monday, A2 Milk raised its forecast for annual sales for the year to the end of June 2016 to NZ$267m (US$175.5m).

from NZ$230m. The company pointed to "strong recent financial performance and further expected growth throughout FY16" stemming from "continued growth" in infant formula in Australia, New Zealand and China.

It predicts sales growth will come from the expansion of its liquid milk in the US and the launch of ice cream in August this year in Australia and New Zealand.

A2 Milk also gave some unaudited numbers for the financial year just ended. It said its "underlying trading result for FY15 is ahead of plan" with revenue of NZ$154m, up 39% on the previous year.