Shares in Australian cotton producer Queensland Cotton Holdings (QCH) traded heavily today (18 April) as the country's takeover panel considers a rival takeover bid from Louis Dreyfus Cotton International.

QCH's board continued to recommend an AUD$134m (US$111.7m) takeover offer from Singapore-based company Olam International, despite claims from Louis Drefus that it has a superior offer on the table. Olam and QCH first announced the proposed bid on 7 March.

Louis Dreyfus has requested a declaration of unacceptable circumstances from the panel and wants all acceptances of the Olam offer to be suspended.

The takeover panel received Louis Dreyfus' application this week, which said a lock-up clause contained in the bid implementation agreement between QCH and Olam had an anti-competitive effect on the market for control of Queensland Cotton.

The Belgium-based firm, already a substantial holder of shares in QCH, went on to claim that the refusal of QCH to allow it "equal due diligence access" was causing the acquisition to take place in a market that was "not efficient, competitive and informed".

QCH said earlier this week that, having not received an offer price with underlying valuation assumptions or terms from Louis Dreyfus and with regards to its bid implementation agreement with Olam, there was no basis to permit Louis Dreyfus access to any confidential information.

During today's trading on the Australian Stock Exchange, 160,924 QCH shares worth AUD$808,001 traded compared with an average daily trading value of $174,928. The volume was 3.505 times normal trading of 45,911 according to Australian News Bites.

The panel said it had not decided whether to conduct proceedings in relation to the application and made no comment on the merits of Louis Dreyfus' application.