Finance Finance News Saputo lifts Warrnambool Cheese stake

Saputo lifts Warrnambool Cheese stake

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One of the two suitors remaining in the battle to take over Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory, Canadian dairy giant Saputo, has lifted its stake in the target to 20.14 per cent.

“Saputo is now the largest shareholder in Warrnambool Cheese and Butter, with acceptances continuing to flow in,” a spokesperson for Saputo said on Thursday.

Saputo’s offer for WCB, which it has said is its final bid, expires at 1900 AEDT on Friday.

Saputo and Australian dairy co-operative Murray Goulburn are vying for control of WCB.

The WCB board favours the Saputo bid.

Murray Goulburn has a 17.7 per cent stake in WCB.

Bega Cheese, which initiated the takeover battle for WCB but pulled out of the contest when its bid lapsed on December 20, holds 18.8 per cent of WCB.

Japanese-controlled food and beverages company Lion has about 10 per cent.

Saputo is offering an unconditional $9.00 per Warrnambool share, but that price can increase to as much as $9.60 if Saputo attains various share thresholds in WCB at and above 50 per cent.

Murray Goulburn’s bid of $9.50 is conditional upon it obtaining more than 50 per cent of WCB shares.

Murray Goulburn’s offer is subject to no objection by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) or the granting of authorisation by the Australian Competition Tribunal.

The company has decided not to seek ACCC approval and instead request authorisation from the Competition Tribunal on the grounds that the net public benefit of its acquisition of WCB would outweigh any likely anti-competitive effects.