The board of beleaguered chocolatier Yowie has pledged to return at least $4.4 million to shareholders as it attempts to fight off a takeover bid.
The board of beleaguered chocolatier Yowie has pledged to hand out at least $4.4 million to shareholders as it attempts to fight off Aurora Capital's $19.6 million takeover bid.
Aurora's bidders' statement was lodged with the ASX on Friday with the firm having already flagged the all-scrip takeover offer in May.
The unsolicited bid is the equivalent value of 9.0 cents per Yowie share, which represents a 45 per cent premium to the company's share price before the statement was lodged on Friday.
The statement repeats Aurora's concerns over the chocolate company's performance, and accuses the Yowie board and management of failing to bring the business to profitability.
Yowie Group chairman Louis Carroll said in a letter to shareholders that Aurora's bid "severely undervalues" the company and again urged investors to reject it.
"The Aurora offer places no value on the business and is less than the cash backing in the company," Mr Carroll said.
Though a formal response to the offer is being prepared, Mr Carroll announced a 2.0 cents per share return to Yowie investors, subject to shareholder approval, with potential for more if the company meets its forecast sales figures.
"We ended the 2019 financial year with just over $US16 million [$A22.8m] in cash and are forecasting using only a small part of this for working capital," Mr Carroll said in a release.
An eventful day for the Australiana-themed confectionary company also featured the resignation of director Tim Kestrell, announced after Aurora's statement was received.
Yowie has been contacted for further comment.
ASIC this week appointed Morgan Stanley to sell a 13 per cent stake in Yowie that had been obtained by Wilson Asset Management during a previously unsuccessful 9.2 cents per share takeover bid by Keybridge Capital.
The Takeovers Panel had deemed the purchases unacceptable and vested about 28 million shares to ASIC.
Mr Carroll said on Friday he expected Yowie to return to growth by the end of FY19 with the Yowie Bites products rolling out and US distribution figures increasing thanks to deals with stores such as Kroger and Dollar General.
Mr Carroll said the board was overseeing a "gradual turnaround" in the company's performance.
Yowie, which sells the chocolate characters Rumble, Boof, Crag, Ditty, Nap and Squish, reported a 4.0 per cent drop in first-half revenue to $US7.72 million, thanks to a so-far disappointing US market foray.
The company's first-half net loss reduced by 75 per cent to $US871,000 as it continues the cost-saving program launched in January 2018.
Yowie shares were worth 8.2 cents at 1500 AEST on Friday.