WCB insists it has "strong, independent future"

WCB insists it has "strong, independent future"

Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory (WCB) has revealed that local rival and suitor Murray Goulburn has become a "substantial shareholder" in the Australian dairy firm.

Murray Goulburn, which has had two bids for the business rejected by the WCB board, now owns 7% in the company, according to a filing with the Australian stock exchange yesterday (2 March).

The latest two transactions, both made this week, took Murray Goulburn's stake from 5% to 7% and saw the company pay A$4.50 a share.

The price was 15 cents higher than the value of Murray Goulburn's second offer, which WCB rebuffed on 19 February.

Stephen O'Rourke, Murray Goulburn's managing director, insisted that offer was "a genuine proposal" to deliver higher returns to farmers.

However, WCB claimed the latest offer did not reflect the company's "unique geographic location" and "strategic position in the Australian dairy industry".

WCB has since claimed that Murray Goulburn's moves to buy shares at a price higher than the company's second offer "vindicated" its decision to turn away the company's advances.