Quebec dairy giant Saputo boosts offer for remaining stake in Australia’s Warrnambool cheese and butter business

Quebec dairy giant Saputo boosts offer for remaining stake in Australia’s Warrnambool cheese and butter business

MONTREAL — Canadian dairy giant Saputo Inc. has sweetened its offer to buy out minority shareholders of Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory Co. as it seeks to gain full control of the Australian company.

A subsidiary of Montreal-based Saputo is offering A$9.05 per share cash (C$9.11 at current exchange rates) for each of the remaining shares of the Australian cheese and dairy producer. Saputo took control of the company in 2014 after a hard-fought takeover battle.

The new offer, described as final, is available until March 6 to all shareholders regardless if they already accepted the A$8.85 per share cash bid from Jan. 30.

As of the announcement Tuesday, Saputo (TSX:SAP) owned 88.11 per cent of Warrnambool’s shares.

The holdouts include Japanese-owned beverage firm Kirin, owners of Lion Dairy in Australia, which owns about 10 per cent of Warrnambool’s shares.

Saputo’s offer is below what it paid in 2014 when it offered between A$9.40 per WCB share and up to A$9.60 per share if at least 90 per cent of Warrnambool’s shares were tendered.

A spokeswoman for Saputo declined to say what prompted the increased offer or whether the company believes it paves the way for Saputo to gain full control of Warrnambool.

The Canadian Press

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