Canadian Manufacturing

Cheese wars rage on: Saputo increases offer for Australian firm

Saputo willing to pay premium of it acquires 90 per cent share of Warrnambool Cheese and Butter

MONTREAL—Saputo Inc. says it’s willing to pay substantially more for Australia’s Warrnambool Cheese and Butter (WCB) if it can get as much as 90 per cent of its stock.

The Montreal-based company is maintaining its base offer at AU$9 per share but says it will pay as much as AU$9.60 cash per share if it gets at least 90 per cent of WCB’s stock.

The company has faced stiff competition for Warrnambool, which would provide Saputo with an entry into the Australian market and a toehold in the Asia-Pacific region.

Saputo first launched its takeover bid in early October, offering roughly $6.81 per share for Warrnambool.

That offer was quickly countered by rival Australian bidder Bega Cheese Ltd., and followed soon after by Murray Goulburn Co-operative, Australia’s largest dairy producer.

With Bega backing out of the takeover battle, Saputo and Murray Goulburn have been waging war ever since.

The back and forth between the two firms has seen a number of registered bids that have helped pushed WCB’s value to more than AU$530-million.

Last month the Australian Takeovers Panel agreed to Murray Goulburn’s applications to prevent Saputo from processing share tendered under its bid for two months, or until it makes a final order.

—With files from Canadian Manufacturing Daily Staff

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