Saputo battling Murray Goulburn to buy WCB

Saputo battling Murray Goulburn to buy WCB

Saputo has said its current bid for Australian dairy processor Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory is its "last and final offer".

The Canadian dairy giant is battling with another Australian dairy group, Murray Goulburn, for WCB and has put forward an offer that could be worth A$9.60 a share if it is accepted by over 90% of shareholders.

As of yesterday (9 January), Saputo had received the backing of WCB investors that held just under 21.4% of the business.

The bid had been due to expire today at 10pm Melbourne time but Saputo has extended the deadline to 7pm on 22 January - and told WCB shareholders it would be its final offer.

Murray Goulburn has an offer on the table for WCB worth A$9.50 a share. However, the bid is dependent on approval from Australian competition officials. The Australian Competition Tribunal is scheduled to rule on the offer next month.

Murray Goulburn already holds a 17.7% stake in WCB. A third Australian dairy firm, Bega Cheese, which had bid for WCB but has pulled out of the race, owns 18.8%.

Last week, Bega Cheese told just-food it had received interest in its stake from potential suitors beyond Saputo and Murray Goulburn.

Kirin Holdings, the Japanese food and drink giant, is also on the WCB share roster. It acquired a 9.99% stake in WCB through its Australian dairy subsidiary Lion when the bidding war for the business started. WCB manufactures some of Lion's cheese brands, including Cracker Barrel.