MONTREAL—Saputo’s bid to acquire a leading Australian dairy processor is facing a new challenge from its chief rival, which claims investors are misinformed about the Canadian cheese company’s latest offer.
Murray Goulburn Co-operative has asked the Australian Takeovers Panel to intervene to force Montreal-based Saputo to drop its latest revised bid for Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory.
Murray Goulburn says that Warrnambool’s shares traded based on “misinformation as to the terms of the Saputo bid” because it no longer includes plans to pay 56 cents per share in special dividends.
Murray Goulburn—which has its own takeover aspirations for Warrnambool—said it wants the Australian regulator to prevent Saputo from obtaining Warrnambool shares and for special dividends to be reinstated by Warrnambool.
Saputo announced this week it could pay up to A$9.20 a share if receives more than half of Warrnambool’s shares—or A$9 per share if it doesn’t get a majority.
Saputo’s announcement also stated that Warrnambool no longer intends to declare and pay any dividends during the offer period, a decision that would affect Warrnambool’s current shareholders.
A sizeable minority of Warrnambool’s stock is owned by Murray Goulburn and by another Australian dairy company, Bega Cheese.
The Australian takeover panel says it hasn’t decided whether to conduct proceedings and declined to comment on the merits of Murray Goulburn’s application.
Warrnambool, which is supporting Saputo’s bid unless it receives a superior offer, says it disagrees with Murray Goulburn’s application but wouldn’t comment further until panel proceedings.
Saputo didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.