Loss-making Australia-based confectioner Yowie Group has become the subject of a takeover bid by investment firm Keybridge Capital.

Sydney-listed Keybridge, which already holds a 6.05% stake in Yowie, is offering 9.2 Australian cents per share, representing a 31.4% premium to the last closing price of 7 cents, according to a statement today (13 March) from the investment fund.

Keybridge is offering AUD9m (US$6.3m) for a further 48% share of the Perth-based business, which is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange. The bid price will be paid in cash or a combination of cash and Keybridge’s listed convertible redeemable promissory notes if shareholder acceptances amount to more than the AUD9m.

Once the investment firm has a 51% stake, based on offers above the AUD9m, it would issue new notes for the remaining acceptances. 

Yowie has operations in Australia, New Zealand, the US, Canada and the Asia Pacific, and has posted losses for the past two financial years which have continued into the first half of the current reporting period. In December, the company created a new executive role as part of a restructuring process and brought in Wayne Brekke as chief financial officer.

There have also been recent changes in top management positions, with Mark Schuessler moving up the ranks from chief operating officer to CEO in January last year after Bert Alfonso left the company, along with a string of resignations at the board level.

The statement from Keybridge read: “Keybridge notes that Yowie has consistently failed to structure or conduct its business operations in a profitable manner and that Yowie has incurred significant losses in the ordinary course of its business.

“Given those matters, Keybridge wishes to increase its stake in Yowie to a level where it is able to exert material influence (via the appointment of its nominees as directors to reflect its relevant interest in Yowie) for the Yowie board to conduct a review of the company and its operations, assets and liabilities and examine all possible strategic directions for Yowie to maximise its available assets.” 

Keybridge said as well as the 6.05% share it owns in Yowie it has a “relevant interest” in a further 12.18% of the business held by Aurora Funds Management under its HHY Fund , which is also listed in Sydney. Aurora is a former subsidiary of Keybridge.