updated 4/14/2006 8:45:06 AM ET 2006-04-14T12:45:06

Australian ports operator Patrick Corp. has accepted a 5.81 billion Australian dollar ($4.23 billion) takeover offer from shipper Toll Holdings Ltd. that will create one of the world's largest transport and logistics group, company executives announced Friday.

Toll's final bid, announced Friday, is nine percent higher than its last offer in March and concludes an eight-month battle by managing director Paul Little to acquire Patrick despite a fierce defense by Patrick's board.

Patrick directors agreed Thursday night they would unanimously recommend the deal to shareholders, Patrick managing director Chris Corrigan said at a joint news conference with Little in the southern city of Melbourne.

The companies expect to submit the agreement to Patrick's shareholders by April 21.

The final cash and share offer values Patrick at 8.26 Australian dollars ($6.01) a share, well above its closing share price Thursday of 8.03 Australian dollars ($5.84) and at the top end of the last independent expert valuation range for the group.

Toll raised the base cash component to 3 Australian dollars ($2.20) a share, from 1.90 Australian dollars ($1.38), while leaving unchanged the offer of 0.4 Toll shares for each Patrick share.

The combination of Toll and Patrick will create an integrated logistics group with a market value of about 10 billion Australian dollars ($7 billion), based on Toll's closing share price of 13.15 Australian dollars ($9.57) Thursday.

Toll made its first tilt at Patrick last August with a bid of 4.6 billion Australian dollars ($335 million) and raised that last month to 5.27 billion Australian dollars ($3.84 billion).

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