SOUTH Australian icon Coopers Brewery was established by Tom Cooper in 1862, not far from where Christopher Penfold, the famous winemaker, was setting up in Magill.
Coopers is now the number one producer of home brewing equipment in the world.
The largest Australian-owned brewery was almost lost to the Japanese in 2005, after a strong takeover bid from Lion Nathan, which also owns Launceston’s Boag’s Brewery.
Last week, Coopers chairman and marketing director Glenn Cooper relived the experience at a beer degustation dinner in Launceston.
‘‘It was a David and Goliath effort,’’ the fifth-generation Cooper said. ‘‘In that takeover bid, we were subject to an enormous amount of pressure from many to sell . . . our share price at the time was $43 a share as set by KPMG auditors . . . and [Lion Nathan] got access to our shareholder list and said [to Coopers shareholders], ‘If you sign power of attorney over your shares to us, we will give you $260 a share’, and some took the offer.’’
Mr Cooper said the brewery matched the offer before Lion Nathan increased the stakes by $50 to $310 a share.
‘‘So we turned around and said that we want to insert in our articles of the company the clause that no other brewery can ever own shares in Coopers — which we needed 75 per cent of shareholders to support,’’ he said.
Coopers tried to hold an extraordinary general meeting to insert the clause, but was stopped four times in court by Lion Nathan before it was allowed.
‘‘In the meeting are Lion Nathan lawyers because they had power of attorney over shares . . . we adjourned the meeting for the vote,’’ Mr Cooper said.
‘‘I reconvened the meeting, people are looking at me, I open it up with the best poker face in the world and read out the result — 94 per cent of the people said insert the clause.
‘‘We stopped the bid and the company was saved.''