February 12, 2020 / 11:27 PM / 9 days ago

UPDATE 3-Caltex Australia gets bumped up bid from Couche-Tard as EG circles

* Caltex says Couche-Tard raised bid by 2% to A$35.25/share

* Caltex previously said EG Group had shown interest in bidding

* Caltex shares remain below latest offer price (Adds Couche-Tard comment)

By Nikhil Nainan

Feb 13 (Reuters) - Caltex Australia Ltd said Canada's Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc has raised its buyout offer to A$8.80 billion ($5.93 billion), in a final attempt to sway the oil refiner and convenience store firm after interest from Britain's EG Group.

Couche-Tard bumped up its cash offer by 2% to A$35.25 per share, calling its third offer final in the absence of a competing proposal, Caltex said on Thursday.

EG Group has yet to bid, though Caltex last month said the retailer - backed by British private equity firm TDR Capital - had expressed interest in buying some or all of the company.

Confirming the revised offer, the Canadian firm said it has "long viewed the Asia-Pacific region as strategic to Couche-Tard's future growth" and remains committed to buying Caltex's entire business.

A Caltex spokesman declined to comment on whether the firm was in talks with EG Group. EG Group did not respond to a request for comment.

Shares of Sydney-based Caltex jumped more than 5% in early trade but lost some ground by midday. The stock was up 2.4% in late trade, remaining below Couche-Tard's current offer.

The interest comes as Caltex is forced to re-brand to Ampol within the next three years after the re-entry of former co-owner Chevron Corp into Australian petrol retailing.

The firm turned down Couche-Tard's previous bids - on Oct. 11 at A$32 and Nov. 18 at A$34.5 - after which it provided the Canadian firm with non-public information to elicit a better offer.

Analysts from RBC Capital Markets and Jefferies said the latest bid was attractive and probably enough to be accepted.

"It represents only a c.18% premium to the pre-bid share price but a lot has changed since then, implying the true premium is much larger," Jefferies analysts said in a client note.

The bid gives Caltex the right to pay a special dividend to shareholders - subtracted from the indicative offer - and restricts the Australian firm from selling assets.

EG Group entered Australia in 2018 through the acquisition of supermarket chain Woolworths Group's petrol stations for A$1.7 billion. The British firm is being advised by Citi.

($1 = 1.4846 Australian dollars)

Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi and Christopher Cushing

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