Goodman Fielder is expected to report this week weaker first half profits as speculation grows about its planned strategic review of its business operations.

Reports suggest that Australia’s biggest food firm will launch a takeover bid for Snack Foods Ltd, hold a 10% share buyback or go private through a leveraged A$2.3bn buyout led by chief executive David Hearn. The company said last week that it remains in ‘active discussions’ on matters including its shape, strategy, and financial and capital structure.

Analysts have forecasted first half net profit between a range of A$57.5m to A$59.5m. The ingredient division has been blamed for the shortfall.

Fielder recently divested underperforming assets including the gelatin business, Leiner Davis Gelatin and Starch Australasia, and has reshaped the company’s manufacturing base and integrated its Australian and New Zealand acquisitions. The company last month agreed to sell Leiner Davis to Germany’s DGF Stoess AG for A$310m, but the transaction isn’t expected to be settled until mid-2001 subject to US antitrust checks, while it is also looking for a buyer for its Germantown specialty ingredients business.

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