Australia's Just Group Rejects Revised Premier Bid

Australian retailer Just Group on Monday rejected a sweetened A$810 million (US$771 million) takeover bid by Australian billionaire Solomon Lew, saying the new offer was not an improvement.

Lew, through his investment company Premier Investments, last week raised his bid for Just and said that was the final offer.

"The proposed modest conditional improvement to Premier's offer is highly uncertain and inadequate," Just Chairman Ian Pollard said.

Just Group, which issued a profit warning earlier this month, said it had a strong business model and was well positioned for growth, despite the current weak retail conditions.

Retailers across the board have been hit by a downturn in consumer spending as shoppers tighten their belts under the pressure of surging petrol prices and rising interest rates.

But Just's predominantly teenage market, with 880 stores and brands such as Just Jeans, Dotti and Jay Jays, is less exposed to those pressures, analysts have said.

Despite the weaker retail conditions, Just said trading in July was pleasing. It plans to provide a sales update this week on its financial year to July 26.

Shares in Just fell 1.8 percent to A$3.27 in the morning session, still below the implied A$4.02 value of the higher offer and below the A$3.87 per share value of the original offer, pointing to scepticism among investors that a deal would get done.

Premier holds 24.76 percent of Just, but only 2 percent of shareholders have accepted the offer so far.

Just noted that Premier would increase the cash component of its offer by 15 cents a share only if it won 90 percent or more of shareholder acceptances.

Just said it was uncertain Premier would reach that threshold given the low level of acceptances so far.