Canadian dairy products maker Saputo has agreed to buy the cheese making activities of Fromage Côté S.A. and Distributions Kingsey Inc.

The deal covers the manufacturing, marketing and distribution activities for their pressed cheddar and cheddar cheese curd, Swiss-type cheese and other specialty cheeses sold under the brand names Kingsey, Princesse, Sir Laurier d'Arthabaska and Du Village de Warwick.

The purchase price is CA$54m (US$44.8m) on a debt-free basis, payable in cash. The closing of the transaction is subject to the usual conditions, including approval by the Competition Bureau, and is anticipated for early April 2005.

Fromage Côté S.A. and Distributions Kingsey Inc. employ approximately 400 people in Québec at their plants in Warwick and Plessisville, at their cheese aging centre in Victoriaville, as well as at their cutting and distribution centre in Boucherville. The organization's annual revenues are approximately $110 million. These assets will complement Saputo's current cheese-making activities in Canada.