Saputo has acquired WCB to move into Australia and to act as platform for expansion in Asia

Saputo has acquired WCB to move into Australia and to act as platform for expansion in Asia

Saputo's takeover offer for Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory has closed, with the Canadian dairy giant holding just shy of 88% of the Australian processor.

In a statement issued to the Australian stock exchange, Saputo said it had "acquired a relevant interest of 87.920% of Warrnambool shares".

Saputo, which beat off bids for WCB from Australian firms Bega Cheese and Murray Goulburn, added: "Saputo looks forward to working closely with the board and management of Warrnambool to pursue Warrnambool's strategic objectives and continue to grow its business. At this stage Saputo expects that Warrnambool will remain listed on ASX, unless and until Warrnambool no longer meets criteria for listing."

Japanese food and drinks giant Kirin Holdings has retained its 9.99% stake in WCB, shares acquired through Australian dairy arm Lion.

The stake was purchased when the battle to buy WCB intensified. The move was seen as a way of protecting its business interests. WCB produces cheese sold under brands owned by Lion.

Lion CEO Stuart Irvine, speaking as the company issued a trading update for the year to the end of September, said today: "Our recent investment in Warrnambool Cheese & Butter further strengthens the close relationship we have enjoyed with WCB in our domestic cheese business over many years."