Murray Goulburn Co-Operative has said weekend talks with Bonlac Foods over a proposed A$890 million takeover offer were ‘fruitful’. The company is eager that due diligence on the deal can begin this week.

Murray Goulburn is hoping that it can finalise an offer for the Bonlac before the dairy group considers a rival offer from the New Zealand Dairy Board (NZDB).

“Any unnecessary delays will certainly not be in the farmers’ interests,” said Murray Goulburn managing director Stephen O’Rourke. “They will need to assess the respective merits of two proposals – ours and that of the New Zealand Dairy Board.”

Murray Goulburn has offered to pay A$190 million in cash for Bonlac’s milk supplies and factories and assume the company’s A$700m debt. Murray Goulburn will offload Bonlac’s cheeses and butter division to National Foods for A$250m as part of the deal.

Bonlac management is reluctant to see a break up of the group and demanded more information from Murray Goulburn and National Foods about their offer on Friday (March 23). Bonlac said in a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange that it wanted information about the valuation of assets, timing of its proposed acquisition, regulatory approvals, and any staff cuts or plant closures.

Bonlac’s 2500 supplier-shareholders will vote on April 23 on a deal to sell a 25 per cent stake to the NZDB.