Canadian Manufacturing

Saputo’s largest rival gives up in battle for Aussie dairy producer

Murray Goulburn Co-Operative announced it will sell 17.7 per cent stake in company to Saputo

MONTREAL—Australia’s largest dairy producer has called off its battle for control of Warrnambool Cheese and Butter and decided to sell its shares to Canadian rival Saputo Inc.

Murray Goulburn Co-Operative announced the decision through the Australian Securities Exchange Jan. 23.

It expects to receive at least AU$92.8-million cash from the sale of its Warrnambool shares—roughly 17.7 per cent of the total.

Murray Goulburn says its decision to accept the Canadian offer will push Saputo’s majority above the 75 per cent threshold, although that hasn’t been confirmed by Saputo as yet.

Saputo had set a Jan. 22 deadline for its final offer for Warrnambool, which it sees as a strategic acquisition that provides it with an entry into the important Asia-Pacific region.

At the 75 per cent majority level, Saputo will pay AU$9.40 per WCB share but could pay as much as AU$9.60 each if it gets at least 90 per cent of the total.

According to a regulatory filing by Saputo, it had 57.7 per cent of Warrnambool’s shares as of Jan. 22—giving it a majority that guaranteed it would pay at least AU$9.20 per share.

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