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Visy favorite to buy Owens-Illinois' assets
AUSTRALIA (From news reports) -- Australia's richest man is in late stage talks to buy bottle maker Owens-Illinois' Australian and New Zealand business for about $1 billion.

It was reported on Thursday, Anthony Pratt's Visy is in pole position to buy the assets after seeing off a bid from arch-rival private equity firm Pacific Equity Partners.

It was reported that Pacific Equity Partners, advised by Credit Suisse, has withdrawn from the Goldman Sachs-run auction for Owens-Illinois' unit, while Visy Industries has been tapped as preferred bidder.

It is believed Visy - whose modest glass manufacturing business is dwarfed by its cardboard and plastic packaging operations - sees strong strategic merit in acquiring the business given the potential synergies.

It has been self-advised throughout the auction, and needs only to clear the final round of talks before it can bolt the business into its wider network.

Pratt's Melbourne-based Visy is Australia's biggest private company, recording about $7 billion a year revenue from packaging, paper and recycling products and services. Its operations span Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Europe and the US and it employs more than 10,000 people, according to data collector IBISWorld.

The Owens-Illinois' local division is the largest manufacturer of glass bottles and containers in Australia and New Zealand, supplying 850,000 tonnes of glass products a year, according to a sale flyer sent to potential buyers last October.

The business recorded $750 million in revenue in 2018 and $140 million in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation. It makes beer bottles for the likes of Lion, Asahi and Heineken.

Owens-Illinois ANZ is expected to be worth more than $1 billion.

The auction morphed into a three-stage process late last year after prospective acquirers who had been ushered into the second-stage data room were told to prepare to lob a new offer, or at least confirm existing ones, in the week starting December 16.

Visy and PEP emerged as the two leading contenders, and went head to head in the auction's final round over the past week.

The business is owned by US-listed Owens-Illinois, which has been reviewing its portfolio and selling assets to pay down debt.

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